Thomas Orchard: Cell death involved 'appalling' belt

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

An "appalling" looking belt used to restrain a man who died after having a cardiac arrest in a police cell was "not ideal", a court has heard.

Thomas Orchard, 32, who had schizophrenia, died in October 2012.

An Emergency Response Belt was held around his mouth when he threatened to bite, police said.

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

The defence said the belt was "unfortunately" what officers had been equipped with.

Mr Tansley's barrister, Michael Mather-Lees, told the court: "It looks appalling but unfortunately this was the item they had been given. It was approved, tested, trained upon and given to use as a spit or bite mask."

Prosecutors previously told the court there was no evidence Mr Orchard tried to bite Mr Tansley, who held the belt around Mr Orchard's mouth.

However, Mr Mather-Lees said the CCTV footage showing police treatment of Mr Orchard in his cell "doesn't show everything - it doesn't show every angle".

Image caption Sgt Jan Kingshott and civilian detention officers Michael Marsden and Simon Tansley served with Devon & Cornwall Police
Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Thomas Orchard was left lying on a mattress in his cell at Heavitree Road police station in Exeter

Mr Orchard, who had been arrested in Exeter on suspicion of a public order offence, was left lying face down on a mattress in his cell at Heavitree Road police station after he was freed from restraints.

Officers discovered he was not breathing when they re-entered the cell 12 minutes later, Bristol Crown Court had heard.

Mr Mather-Lees told the court Mr Tansley would have acted had he been aware that Mr Orchard was having problems breathing.

Mr Orchard, who had not been taking his medication for schizophrenia, died in hospital following a cardiac arrest.

The trial continues.

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