02:13PM, Tuesday 08 March 2016
The jury in the inquest of Philmore Mills has returned a narrative verdict.
The four week inquest came to a close at Reading Town Hall on Thursday with jurors recording their verdict today.
The verdict states Mr Mills' death was caused by cardiorespiratory collapse combined with hypoxia and severe lung and heart disease in association with restraint and mentions a 'lack of communication' between police, nurses and security staff
The 57-year-old father, of Tamar Way, Langley, died at Wexham Park Hospital on December 27, 2011 after being restrained by police officers and security staff.
Following reports Mr Mills had become ‘aggressive’ towards staff at the hospital, police placed him on the floor on his front but Mr Mills became unresponsive and died.
During the inquest, coroner Peter Bedford has heard evidence from staff at the hospital, including security and the police officers involved.
Today, Mr Bedford expressed ‘huge sympathy’ for the family of Mr Mills and added that families of the deceased are always at the forefront of inquests.
A statement from the jury read out said: ‘A lack of oxygen mask for a significant period of time contributed to the development of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) which led to Mr Mills’ agitated state resulting in restraint. During the period of agitation there was a lack of medical support’.
Mr Bedford said he will now make recommendations to the National Police Chiefs Council for the change in the use of takedowns in hospitals to ensure officers are given improved training and understand there is a risk of death.
The family of Philmore Mills said in a statement: “It’s been four stressful years to get to this point. We have now listened to four weeks of evidence about how events unfolded like a car crash in slow motion. Yet we are none the wiser as to how a seriously ill man with pneumonia, heart and lung disease, lung cancer and blood clots in his lungs could have been allowed to die under police restraint on the floor of a respiratory ward.
“It is shocking that neither the nurses, security staff or police officers spoke to each other before restraining him. None of the witnesses accepted responsibility for the death of our father/grandfather. No family should have to go through what we have gone through. We hope that all those involved will reflect on their actions and that lessons will be learned.”
Kate Maynard, family solicitor, said: “A report ‘Police Use of Force’ issued by the IPCC today revealed 'troubling issues', including the death of five people during or following the use of force by police in hospital. Dame Ann Owers expressed concerns about the use of force on those who were particularly vulnerable.
“In this case, the jury found that pressure was applied to Mr Mills’ shoulder sufficient to cause bruising while he was restrained face down on the floor. They also found that restraint contributed to his death and that a failure of communication between the police, security and nurses and with Mr Mills played a part.”
Superintendent Simon Bowden, the Local Police Area Commander for Slough, said: “Thames Valley Police acknowledges the detail within the narrative verdict returned by a jury at the inquest into the death of Mr Philmore Mills today.
“Police officers are required to apply restraint tactics in a number of diverse situations, and communication is essential to the safety of all involved. Thames Valley Police will fully review the detail of the narrative verdict, to ensure that officers receive the best training, to enable them to deploy restraint tactics appropriately and to achieve the best outcome, which must be to protect all involved and minimise the risk of harm.
“This has been a long and distressing process for both the family of Philmore Mills and everyone involved in the case since Mr Mills’ tragic death in Slough in December 2011.
“Our thoughts remain with Philmore Mills’ family and friends, and everyone who has felt the impact of this tragedy, at this difficult time.
“I am relieved for all those involved, that the inquest has finally come to a conclusion, more than four years after Mr Mills’ death. I know that Mr Mills’ family have been waiting for over four years, to fully understand how he died. It has been agonising and frustrating for all involved, that it has taken so long to get to this point.”
A statement from the Frimley Heath NHS Foundation Trust reads: "We valued the opportunity to participate in this inquest and we appreciate Mr Mills’ family’s comments during the course of the hearing recognising the work that Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust has undertaken over the past year to re-investigate this extremely sad incident.
"We are grateful the coroner recognised that the issues raised in relation to the trust’s care of Mr Mills and handling of the incident leading up to his death have been properly addressed and improvements put in place.
"We recognise that this remains a very tragic event for the Mills family and assure them that we will continue to ensure that any similar incidents are approached differently in future.
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