15 October 1997
At 12 Noon on Thursday 16 October, the family of John Leo O’Reilly – a 54 year old Irish man who died on 17 July 1994 following a period in the custody of the West Midlands Police – will be protesting outside the Police Complaints Authority in Great George Street about the length of time they have had to wait to hear whether any disciplinary charges will be brought against police officers involved.
Over three years have passed since Mr O’Reilly died and over six months since the conclusion of the second inquest which lasted nearly three weeks and neither the PCA nor the Chief constable of the West Midlands Police have yet decided whether there should be any disciplinary charges against the officers involved. The family are furious that they are still waiting for the outcome of the Police Complaints Authority investigation.
Mr O’Reilly’s son, Ges O’Reilly said: ‘We are disgusted that we have been left waiting for so long. No family should be treated like that. Our Dad died after being left in appalling conditions in a police cell. We don’t like having to organise a protest but we want people to realise what people in our situation have to go through. Our family feel that no responsible professionals should have treated a sick man in the way they did and that evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that the officers left our Dad in the cell and neither checked nor cared about him throughout the night.’
Mr O’Reilly fell on the evening of 2 July 1994 and suffered a fractured skull. He was assessed as being drunk and incapable and taken into police custody at Little Park Police Station in Coventry where he remained for some 13.5 hours before being transferred to hospital. His condition in the police cell was appalling. The ambulance staff found him to be semi-dressed, shivering and lying in a pool of his own urine and vomit. By the time he was treated in hospital he was in too poor a neurological state to be saved. He died on 17 April 1994.
The first inquest, 12 October 1994, where the jury were directed to return a verdict of accidental death on 12 October 1994 was overturned in the Divisional Court. In March 1996 the Court ruled that a fresh inquest should take place before a different Coroner. The second inquest concluded on 3 March 1997 and returned an open verdict.