Kevin Clarke death: Mother says son had ‘fear of police’

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Kevin Clarke

image copyrightInquest

image captionKevin Clarke was described by his family as a “gentle giant”

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The mother of a man who died after being restrained by officers has told an inquest he had a fear of police as he had been “mistreated” in the past.

Kevin Clarke, 35, died in police custody at Lewisham Hospital in March 2018 following an incident in Catford, south-east London.

Southwark Crown Court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

His mother, Wendy Clarke, said he had been traumatised when officers Tasered him in the past.

She said her son would have episodes, referred to by the family lawyer Leslie Thomas QC as a “mental health crisis”, every six months or so and would “go quiet” and not eat or sleep.

Mr Thomas asked Ms Clarke whether these incidents of Tasering had happened in the past during such episodes, and whether his encounters with police were when he was unwell, and she said they were.

“He was fearful. He feared for his life because of the trauma that he has suffered before by the police,” she added.

‘Risk’

The inquest heard that on the day Mr Clarke died, 9 March, staff at the Jigsaw Project – a support service for people with mental health issues where he lived – called the police after becoming concerned he was relapsing and needed to be sectioned.

The inquest was told that two police officers attended and assessed him to be not a “high enough risk” and left the scene at 14:30.

Ms Clarke said when she spoke to her son about 10 minutes later, he said “mum, I am coming to yours”.

When she rang him again, a police officer answered. She said she asked if they were going to Taser or arrest him and the officer said no.

She told the inquest she later spoke to another officer and her son’s care worker to check what was happening. At about 17:00, officers visited her to tell her he had died.

Kevin Clarke

image copyrightFamily handout

image captionMr Clarke was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 17

A statement from a care co-ordinator heard in the inquest said that when Mr Clarke was well he was sociable and engaged with others, but that during periods of being unwell he could become “aggressive and violent”.

Ms Clarke told the inquest she wanted it to explore whether appropriate force was used on her son and also why CPR was carried out while he remained handcuffed.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, has carried out an investigation and said it would release its findings once the inquest had finished.

The inquest continues.

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