Partner of Sheku Bayoh 'disgusted police lied to her' about his death

Collette Bell gave pre-recorded evidence to the inquiry into Mr Bayoh's death for the first time on Thursday.

Partner of Sheku Bayoh tells inquiry she still has nightmares about his death STV News

The partner of Sheku Bayoh has told the inquiry into his death she still has nightmares about the events that followed and her involvement with the police.

Collette Bell gave pre-recorded evidence to the inquiry for the first time on Thursday.

Ms Bell and Mr Bayoh had a three-month-old baby when he died after being restrained by police in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3, 2015.

She told the inquiry she still has nightmares about the police having “the wrong man” and “disgusted” that “police had lied” to her about the circumstances surrounding his death.

She said: “I often have nightmares about it. I’ll be walking down a beach on holiday and Shek will be coming towards me.”

In a statement to the inquiry, Ms Bell claimed a post-mortem examination had taken place on Mr Bayoh’s body without the family identifying him first.

Senior counsel to the inquiry Angela Grahame KC asked Ms Bell: “Was it your understanding at that time that they needed permission to do the post-mortem?”

Ms Bell responded: “Yes, because I remember when we were in the police station they had said he would need to be identified so nothing could go ahead without him being identified.

“I just remember thinking, ‘He hasn’t been identified so how have they managed to do the post-mortem?’”

Ms Bell also told the inquiry that police had told her Mr Bayoh’s body had been found by a passer-by in the street.

She claimed she asked police what had happened to him but they told her they had “just come on shift” and did not know what was going on.

Police officers then began to treat Ms Bell’s home like a crime scene, she said, and told her she would have to pack a bag in case she could not get back in.

It was at that stage that Ms Bell thought for the first time that Mr Bayoh was dead.

She told the inquiry: “They were covering the garden with polythene and I just remember saying ‘Shek’s dead’.

“I don’t know why I was saying that, I have no reason, I think it was just all the commotion in the house and the officers and then the polythene in the garden.

“I just thought, ‘something’s really not right here, I think Shek’s dead’ and mum was like, ‘Don’t be silly. We’ll get down to the police station and we’ll find out what’s going on’.”

Ms Bell criticised the way she and Mr Bayoh’s family were treated by the police.

Ms Grahame asked: “How does it make you feel to know that information was withheld from you?”

Ms Bell replied: “Disgusted. You know what’s happened, I’ve asked you what has happened, I’ve asked you: has he been stabbed, has he collapsed, has he been hit by a car, what’s happened to him?

“You say: no obvious wounds, we don’t know.

“You do know. You know that the police have been in contact with Shek, and you know that he’s died right on the back of being in contact with the police, you do know what’s happened to him, you know that he’s not been stabbed or hit by a car.”

Ms Bell claimed the police lied to her about the circumstances surrounding Mr Bayoh’s death, adding: “I don’t feel it’s withholding information. That is a straight up lie. I’m asking you a question and you’re saying, ‘No, I don’t know.’

“It might make you feel better that you say you’re withholding information, but to me that’s not withholding information, that’s intentionally lying.”

Ms Bell also said a senior officer “shrugged his shoulders” while giving the family information about Mr Bayoh’s death and that she had found it “quite rude”.

She said: “I still don’t understand why he did that. I feel like it was quite rude of him to do that, you’re telling me my partner has died and the police have done all of this to him and you’re just shrugging your shoulders.

“It’s something that is never going to leave me. I still relive it and I’m still very, very shocked that somebody of his stature would shrug his shoulders in a way like that.

“It’s not the behaviour I would expect from somebody in his position.”

The inquiry, taking place before Lord Bracadale in Edinburgh, will resume later this month.

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