Devon

Belt use defended in Thomas Orchard custody death case

Left to right, Jan Kingshott, Michael Marsden and Simon Tansley
Image caption Sgt Jan Kingshott, and civilian detention officers Michael Marsden and Simon Tansley deny manslaughter

A detention officer accused of killing a man who died after he was restrained with a belt said he did not believe it was inappropriate to use it, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

Thomas Orchard, 32, was handcuffed, held down and had a large fabric webbing belt put across his face.

He died in hospital seven days later.

Custody sergeant Jan Kingshott, 44, and civilian detention officers Simon Tansley, 38, and Michael Marsden, 55, deny manslaughter.

'Violent and kicking off'

Mr Orchard, who had paranoid schizophrenia, was arrested in October 2012 in Exeter on suspicion of a public order offence.

Giving evidence, Mr Marsden said he became aware that a "violent and kicking off" Mr Orchard was going to be arriving at the police station.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Thomas Orchard died after being arrested in Exeter

He said he saw two officers holding Mr Orchard's shoulders, when he "attempted to bite the hand of an officer" and shortly after "he was taken to the floor".

Mr Marsden said he did not hear Mr Tansley call for the emergency response belt (ERB) but insisted that using it was not "inappropriate".

"That's the only piece of equipment that had been issued by the force to deal with someone who was attempting to bite or threatening to bite," Mr Marsden said.

He told the court he took over holding the ERB from Mr Tansley so a thorough search of Mr Orchard could be conducted.

Brain damage

He said: "I was in close proximity to Mr Orchard's head, monitoring him the whole time," adding that the belt was "very loose".

He said he did not hear or see anything to indicate that Mr Orchard had problems breathing.

The court heard Mr Marsden had received training on how to use the ERB, which is mainly a restraint for knees, thighs and upper arms.

Mr Marsden said the fact it could be used as a spit or bite hood was "merely tagged on" to the course and formed a "very limited" part of it.

He told jurors he had worn the ERB across his face, arms and legs while being carried during a training exercise.

"It didn't affect my breathing," he said.

Mr Orchard died in hospital from brain damage and asphyxia.

The trial continues.

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