BBC News

Kevin Clarke death: Mural of man who died in police custody removed

Published
image copyrightPA Media
image captionKevin Clarke would have celebrated his birthday next week

A mural of a man who died in custody has been removed despite a plea from his grieving family.

Kevin Clarke, who had schizophrenia, was surrounded and restrained by officers in a field on 9 March 2018 and he later lost consciousness and died.

During his inquest a mural was unveiled opposite Lewisham Police Station - described as a "fitting tribute".

Developer Balfour Beatty said the artwork was "unapproved" and removed due to health and safety.

Mr Clarke's mum Wendy Clarke said she and her family were "devastated" after the mural was taken down.

She added: "This mural meant so much to us as a family and served as an important piece of art to raise awareness about deaths in police custody here in the UK and the pain and hurt that this causes families.

"It was such a beautiful painting. Now that the inquest has come to an end and we received the verdict that we were hoping for, we were finally beginning the process of grieving and now this has happened, the day after my birthday."

The inquest heard Mr Clarke had been seen acting erratically by officers earlier that day in Lewisham, but was not detained despite concerns from staff at his residential housing block.

Bodyworn footage played at Southwark Coroner's Court showed the moment Mr Clarke was restrained by officers and put in two sets of handcuffs before being led away to an ambulance.

media captionKevin Clarke inquest: Body cam footage of restraint released

During the inquest artwork of Mr Clarke was commissioned by his family's appointed liaison Adam Pugh and drawn onto some hoardings opposite Lewisham Police Station.

On Monday Mr Pugh said the mural was painted over with blue paint and replaced with a notice saying the artwork had been removed "following an agreement with relevant parties."

image copyrightFamily handout
image captionMr Clarke lived at the Jigsaw Project, a residential support service

Balfour Beatty said the company had been "working with Kevin Clarke's family to mutually agree upon a solution that will commemorate the artwork after it has been removed".

The company said: "We are pleased to have been able to work with those close to Kevin Clarke on an alternative they are happy with.

"Due to health and safety restrictions at this location, the artwork has now been removed and will be returned to the generic blue hoarding surrounding the rest of the site."

image copyrightInquest
image captionKevin Clarke was handcuffed twice when he collapsed

However, Mr Pugh denied any agreement had taken place between Balfour Beatty and Mr Clarke's family and the artwork "has now been permanently destroyed".

He added: "The family and myself had expressly asked that if the mural were to be removed that they allow us to have the hoardings so that we could move it to a more permanent location with support of the local council.

"[This was] something the Mayor of Lewisham was happy to help us try to facilitate.

"We have now been denied the opportunity to relocate this artwork and the developer has gone back on their promise."

Related Topics

  • Lewisham
  • Metropolitan Police Service

More on this story

  • Kevin Clarke death: Mural created of man who died in police custody