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High Court grants fresh inquest for Onese Power who was killed in 1997 following a police pursuit

6 December 2017

Leslie Thomas QC

Ann Power has fought for the last 20 years to overturn an inquest into the death of her husband, Mr Onese Power. Her husband was killed following a police pursuit in 1997.

At the inquest into her husband’s death back in 1998, the Metropolitan Police refused to disclose to Mrs Power the witness statements of the police officers involved in the pursuit that lead to Onese Power’s death.

The original inquest returned an open verdict. Unhappy with this verdict, Mrs Power fought single handedly for many years seeking the truth about how her husband died.

In 2015 she instructed Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers under the direct access scheme to prepare an appeal under section 13 of the Coroner’s Act 1988.

It was discovered that the police had withheld relevant evidence. A challenge was commenced. The attorney general granted his permission for the case to proceed and on 5 December 2017 after nearly 20 years since Onese Power died, the High Court agreed that the original decision should be quashed due to insufficiency of inquiry, irregularities in the original proceedings and the discovery of fresh evidence, making it in the interest of justice for a new inquest to be ordered.

Among the matters that greatly concerned the court were the virtually identical witness statements from the police officers involved in the pursuit. The circumstances of how this came about were never explored in the original inquest.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies stated in her judgment: “The evidence of the driver of the police vehicle and his passenger was critical. The fact that the two police officers had made, in effect, identical statements was a matter upon which each could and should have been questioned so as to test the credibility and veracity of each account, in particular as to speed, distance and sequencing.”

Leslie Thomas QC specialises in inquests and police actions and is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties and Human Rights Team. Leslie Thomas QC and Daniel Machover of Hickman and Rose represented Ann Power at the High Court hearing in November 2017.

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