Inquest into death of Leroy Junior Medford in Thames Valley police custody, opens Monday

Friday 7 June 2019

Sean Horstead of Garden Court is instructed by Rachel Harger of Bindmans LLP for Marilyn Medford-Hawkins, the sister of Leroy Junior Medford. Both Sean and Rachel are members of INQUEST Lawyers Group.

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Leroy 'Junior' Medford was 43 years old when he died in the care of Thames Valley Police officers at Loddon Valley Police station in the early hours of Sunday 2 April 2017. Junior was one of 23 people who died during or after police custody in 2017-2018, which was the highest figure recorded in 14 years, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Junior was arrested in Reading on 1 April 2017 and shortly after was admitted into Royal Berkshire hospital as police officers suspected that he had secreted drugs on his person. He was later discharged back into police custody where officers, who still suspected that Junior had secreted drugs between his buttocks, were tasked to keep Junior under constant observation.

However, Junior was able to retrieve the secreted item and swallow it within minutes of being placed under constant observation. He was later found unresponsive in his police cell at around 4am and he was pronounced dead at 5:13am.

The coroner will be holding an Article 2 inquest before a jury. It is hoped that the inquest into Junior's death will explore a number of issues, including:

  • The observations, suspicions and decision making of police officers when Junior was first arrested and then strip searched at Loddon Valley Police station;
  • Junior's treatment at Royal Berkshire hospital and the basis for his discharge from the hospital;
  • The observations, suspicions and decision making of police officers and the on-duty Health Care Professional when Junior arrived back into police custody at Loddon Valley Police station and was strip searched again;
  • The decision making of police officers after a third strip search when the package, previously identified during two strip searches, was no longer visible;
  • The observations and monitoring of Junior thereafter until he was found unresponsive in his police cell.

Marilyn Medford-Hawkins, Junior's sister, and on behalf of the Medford family said: 

 "Junior was really vulnerable at the time of his death and police officers knew or should have known this and treated him as being at high risk of harm.

As a family we have committed ourselves to the processes we are expected to follow in seeking justice for Junior, which includes the forthcoming inquest hearing. It has been over 2 years since Junior's death and we remain completely invested in finally getting some answers to questions we've been asking ourselves since Junior died."

Sean Horstead is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests and Inquiries team.

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