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Officer could face charges after Exeter man died following police arrest

By Rob_Sims  |  Posted: March 21, 2013

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Heavitree Police Station

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The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has submitted a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service following the death of an Exeter man after he had been taken into police custody. 

The file of evidence relates specifically to one officer during the arrest of Thomas Orchard and the level of force used. Mr Orchard was arrested near the Paris Street/High Street junction October 3, 2012.

Six officers and members of custody staff have been placed on "restricted duties" pending further investigations, according to the IPCC.

Mr Orchard was taken to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital after becoming unresponsive in his cell. He died in hospital a week later. At the time the IPCC said he suffered "serious head injuries".

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He was restrained and arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and was taken at around 11.10am by police van to custody at Heavitree Road Police Station.

At around 12.15 pm Mr Orchard was taken by ambulance to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where he subsequently died just after 6pm on October 10. The investigation surrounding the circumstances of his death is still ongoing.

The IPCC independent investigation is now being overseen by Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne, who has recently been given responsibility for police forces in the South West. She said: "This is a criminal investigation and we have, at an early stage, submitted a file of evidence to the CPS. Our investigation continues and may lead to further evidence being passed to prosecutors.

"The IPCC has been informed by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary that it has made a decision to place six members of its officers and members of custody staff on restricted duties. While this is a decision for the force to make as the employer, the IPCC made representations that they be suspended pending the consideration of criminal charges.

"We also continue to keep Mr Orchard's family regularly informed of the progress of our investigation."

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