London

Sean Rigg family 'devastated' by not guilty verdict

Sean Rigg Image copyright PA
Image caption Sean Rigg died in police custody in 2008

The family of Sean Rigg have said they are "devastated" after a Met Police custody sergeant was found not guilty of lying at the inquest into his death.

Paul White, 53, who was accused of falsely stating he had checked on Mr Rigg's health when he arrived at Brixton police station, denied perjury.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court returned a unanimous verdict after deliberating for just over two hours.

Mr Rigg's sister, Marcia Rigg described the verdict as "shocking".

Mr Rigg, 40, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and in the weeks before his death had not taken his medication.

He fell ill while being held in a police van on 21 August 2008 and later died in police custody.

Mr White told the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in 2009 and then Mr Rigg's inquest in 2012 that he had checked on Mr Rigg in the police van.

But when confronted with CCTV footage, which showed he had not gone to the van, Mr White conceded he could not have visited the van when he said he had.

In a statement, Mr Rigg's family said the verdict "was a surprise".

Ms Rigg said: "I am devastated. The jury's verdict was a surprise to me and my family but we will continue to fight for full accountability for those officers who were on duty at Brixton police station.

"That a custody sergeant can give false evidence in connection with a death in custody, something he accepts he did, is a shocking state of affairs."

Deborah Coles, director of campaign group Inquest, criticised the IPCC's handling of the case.

"Sean Rigg's family have struggled at every stage of this eight-year process for honesty, truth and justice," she said.

"The failure of the IPCC to conduct an efficient, robust and competent investigation and the inexcusable delays in CPS decision-making have been exposed as a barrier to proper democratic police accountability. "

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