INQUEST and family response to not guilty verdict on death of Colin Holt

Colin Holt
Colin Holt


For immediate release 3 May 2013

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The two police officers, Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery, accused of misconduct relating to the death of Colin Holt, were today found not guilty.

Sharon Holt, Colin Holt’s sister said:

“Losing Colin in this way has caused terrible and unnecessary grief for us all. We miss him so much. He was let down by a system that should have been protecting and caring for him.

“The evidence we have heard points to basic and unacceptable failures of communication, common sense and care. Changes are needed in the way vulnerable people are treated. We still have many unanswered questions about what happened to our brother and how he came to die in these circumstances. It has been a long and hard wait for answers and we hope that an inquest will follow quickly.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“This is a very disappointing verdict for Colin Holt’s family but this was an important prosecution.

“The case raises stark questions about the treatment of people with mental illness by both the police and mental health services. The dangers of positional asphyxiation should be well established in police guidance and training and it is unacceptable that people are continuing to die in these circumstances.

“A national strategy on policing and mental health must be put in place as a matter of urgency otherwise we have no doubt that more deaths will follow.

“In the meantime, it is vital that there is a full and wide-ranging inquest into Colin Holt’s death.”

INQUEST is working with the family of Colin Holt. The family is represented at the by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Mark Scott from Bhatt Murphy solicitors.


Notes to editors:

1. The IPCC’s statistics on deaths in police custody for 2011/12 revealed that nearly half (7 out 15) of those who died in or following police custody were identified as having mental health problems

2. For further information, please contact Hannah Ward, Communications Manager at INQUEST on 020 7263 1111.

INQUEST provides a general telephone advice, support and information service to any bereaved person facing an inquest and a free, in-depth complex casework service on deaths in custody/state detention or involving state agents and works on other cases that also engage article 2 of the ECHR and/or raise wider issues of state and corporate accountability.

INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths occurring.