Police will not face prosecution over Sheku Bayoh’s death

Mr Bayoh died in 2015 after being restrained by officers responding to a call in Fife.

Family: Solicitor Aamer Anwar said Mr Bayoh's relatives feel 'betrayed'. <strong>STV</strong>
Family: Solicitor Aamer Anwar said Mr Bayoh's relatives feel 'betrayed'. STV

No police officers will face prosecution over the death of Sheku Bayoh.

Mr Bayoh, 32, died in 2015 after being restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

His family said they feel “betrayed” over the Lord Advocate’s ruling and have called on the Scottish Government to launch a public inquiry.

Questions were raised over Mr Bayoh’s death by his family, who have been critical of Police Scotland, the Crown Office and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) over what they describe as a lack of answers.

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The officers involved have always denied any wrongdoing.

An investigation by the Pirc into the incident was completed in 2015.

A supplementary report was then submitted to the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, in August 2016.

In October 2018, the father-of-two’s family were told no criminal charges would be brought against officers in the case.

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The right to review the decision was invoked by the family, who met with the Lord Advocate on Monday to hear a final ruling.

At the meeting, with Solicitor General for Scotland Alison Di Rollo QC, Crown Counsel Alex Prentice QC, and Deputy Crown Agent Lindsey Miller, the family were told no officers would be prosecuted.

Family solicitor Aamer Anwar said Mr Bayoh’s relatives feel “betrayed”.

He said: “Today the Lord Advocate advised the Bayoh family that not one police officer or Police Scotland will face charges for the death of Sheku Bayoh.

“They feel totally betrayed by the Lord Advocate, for not holding power to account, for his broken promises, his betrayal of justice and failure to act in the public interest.

“Neither the family or the legal team accept the Crown’s reasoning for no criminal charges.

“The Lord Advocate has presided over a four-and-a-half-year investigation which was deeply flawed from the moment Sheku lost his life.

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“The family do not have the trust or belief that an FAI under the control of the Lord Advocate would have the remit or the courage to deal with serious public concerns, the wider issues of deaths in custody, use of restraint techniques, allegations of racism, lack of police accountability and the insufficient powers of the Pirc, nor will the findings of an FAI be binding on Police Scotland.”

Mr Anwar stated that Mr Bayoh’s family will meet with the First Minister and Justice Secretary on Tuesday to push for a public inquiry into the death.

He added: “The family previously met with the First Minister, who could not comment until the Bayoh investigation was completed.

“On that occasion the family demanded that a public inquiry rather than a FAI be held into Sheku’s death which took account of the wider issues of police accountability, as well as the failure of the Pirc and Crown Office to carry out a robust and impartial investigation and the role that ‘race’ played in Sheku’s death and subsequent investigation.

“The family will accept nothing less than a public inquiry from the Scottish Government. On that basis the family are formally requesting the Scottish Government to consider the possibility of holding the form of a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005.”

Mr Bayoh’s family are now considering taking legal action against the Lord Advocate, claiming he “failed to act in a way which is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Mr Anwar added: “The Bayoh family stated from day one that Sheku acted out of character and that if he broke the law then the police had a right to act, but he did not deserve to die.”

The family maintain that Mr Bayoh was the victim of an unlawful use of force by the police.

Colette Bell, his partner and mother of his son, said: “I believe that if the police hadn’t treated my Sheku the way they did, he would be here today, I am fed up of the lies and the attempt to blame Sheku for his own death.”

Mr Bayoh’s mother, Aminata Bayoh, said: “My heart is broken yet again to hear this decision.

“My only son died in the hands of the police, who are supposed to have protected him.

“Since his death, my life has never been the same. I miss him so much. I just want to know the truth of how my son died.”

His sister, Kadijartu Johnson, said: “It has been four years, six months now and we are back yet again to hear the same devastating result from the Crown Office.”

She added: “Before my brother was met by the very first two officers who handcuffed him, he had no injuries. Soon after his body was covered from head to toe injuries.

“From what I gather today, again it seems like the police are being protected. Why should police officers be above the law?”

Following the decision, a spokesman for the Crown Office said: “Following careful consideration and thorough review of all the available evidence, including submissions made on behalf of the family of the deceased, independent Crown Counsel has concluded there should not be a prosecution in this case.

“The family have been provided with detailed information about this decision and the review process.

“Although the evidence currently available would not justify criminal proceedings, the Crown reserves the right to prosecute should evidence in support of that become available.

“The Crown is committed to ensuring that all the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Bayoh are fully aired in an appropriate legal forum.”

He added the Crown appreciates the time taken to conclude the investigation has been “difficult”.

Police Scotland deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor said: “Our thoughts remain with Sheku Bayoh’s family and friends following his death and we continue to offer support to anyone affected by this tragic incident.

“We have been committed to cooperating with the Pirc and the Crown Office throughout this process and will continue to engage appropriately with any further proceedings.”


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