Sheku Bayoh police never mentioned hunt for two men to family, inquiry told

Sheku Bayoh police never mentioned hunt for two men to family, inquiry told

Police gave no impression that anyone else was involved in Sheku Bayoh’s death, although family members claim they were told this was the case, an inquiring official said.

Detective Sergeant Wayne Parker was a detective constable at the time of Mr Bayoh’s death and he was one of the officers who broke the news to the family.

Mr Bayoh, 31, died after being pinned to the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2015 and the inquest is looking into the circumstances of his death and whether race was a factor.

The death notice – a message from police announcing the death of a person – which was forwarded to Mr Bayoh’s family, was read to the inquest in a statement by Detective Sergeant Andrew Mitchell, who was present with Mr Parker.

It said: “Following an incident this morning in Kirkcaldy’s Hayfield Road, officers from Police Scotland attempted to arrest Sheku Bayoh during which time he fell unconscious.

“Taked to hospital by the Scottish Ambulance Service and despite the best efforts of hospital staff, died just after 9am.”

Sheku Bayoh, 31, died after being pinned to the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2015 (Family Journal/PA).

Testifying on Thursday, Mr Parker insisted that the death notice, which was delivered on the day of Mr Bayoh’s death, was read “verbatim” to the family and that no details were given about other people who may have been involved in the incident.

He said: “I know exactly what he (Mr Mitchell) said because he tilted the notebook and I read it as he said it.”

But Mr Parker’s evidence contradicts statements made by Mr Bayoh’s partner Collette Bell and his family.

The inquiry followed a statement from Ade Johnson, Mr Bayoh’s brother-in-law, which said: “The police officer said they were looking for two men and they (police) went to the home of a friend named Martyn (Witness Dick ).”

Angela Grahame KC, lead counsel for the inquest, asked Mr Parker if he recalled saying anything about the search for two men when he broke the news of the death, to which he said: “No, at no time on either occasion in the house there were no two types or prominent suspects mentioned.”

Supporters of the Sheku Bayoh family
Sheku Bayoh’s family believes his race played a role in his death (PA)

Ms Grahame added: “You will understand that concerns may be raised that if they said they were looking for two men the police would misrepresent or mislead the inquiry.”

The witness replied, “There was no misrepresentation or misrepresentation at all.

“What I knew at that point was that there was no stand-out suspect.

“It wasn’t mentioned at all. Basically definitely not.”

The inquest was also shown Ms Bell’s statement, which read: ‘I recall they (the police) saying they were looking for someone in connection with (Mr Bayoh’s death).

“But I can’t really remember the order in which they said that.

“I just remember when I asked what happened to him, they said we’re looking for someone.”

Angela Graham KC
Angela Grahame KC is lead counsel for the investigation (PA)

Ms Grahame asked Mr Parker if he recognized what Ms Bell said in her statement. He said he didn’t, before adding she had mentioned to him that she had received a call from Mr Bayoh’s friend Zahid Saeed.

Ms Grahame added: “Can you explain why Collette Bell mentions that she feels the police are looking for someone and Ade Johnson mentions that the police are looking for two men?”

Mr Parker replied: “There is no indication from start to finish that anyone else was involved.”

Asked if his colleague Mr Mitchell had said anything that would have given the family the impression that police were looking for two men, Mr Parker said: “No, not at all.

“I can only imagine that they got that impression because we spoke about the fact that the investigation is still ongoing and that witnesses could be contacted. That’s the only way I can imagine that they might have misunderstood it.”

The inquest before Lord Bracadale at Capital House in Edinburgh continues on Friday.

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