Inquest into death of Sivaraj Tharmalingham at Thames Magistrates Court begins Monday 22 February 2016

10am, Monday 22 February 2016

St Pancras Coroner’s Court, Camley Street, London N1C 4PP

Before Senior Coroner Mary Hassell

Mr Sivaraj Tharmalingham died on 18th April 2015 at Thames Magistrates Court having been found unconscious on the floor of his cell, he was 50 years old at the time of his death. The inquest into his death will be heard before a jury at St Pancras Coroner’s court from 22 February. The hearing is due to last 2 weeks.

Mr Tharmalingham had a history of alcohol misuse following family bereavements. He had also experienced seizures, one of which had resulted in a head injury that left permanent damage which meant Mr Tharmalingham was living in sheltered housing at the time of his death.

Mr Tharmalingham was taking medication to prevent epileptic seizures as well as supplements for his alcohol misuse. On the evening of 16th April 2015 Mr Tharmalingham had been drinking and turned up at his wife’s house. He made threats and as a result his wife called the police.

The police did arrive that evening but attended the following day. They arrested Mr Tharmalingham late afternoon on the 17th April 2015 his accommodation and took him to Forest Gate police station. Mr Tharmalingham was booked into custody with his medication. The inquest will hear that no appropriate adult was requested for Mr Tharmalingham despite his brain injury.

Mr Tharmalingham was seen briefly by a Force Medical Examiner (FME) but was not physically examined. The FME had details of some of Mr Tharmalingham’s medications but did not check the medication. The inquest will hear how Mr Tharmalingham was as a consequence not provided with any of his medications.

Mr Tharmalingham was then collected from Forest Gate police station the next morning by SERCO custody officers and transported to Thames Magistrates Court. A brief handover was provided by police which passed on the information that Mr Tharmalingham suffered from epilepsy, but the handover did not include information on Mr Tharmalingham’s medication or his alcoholism. Once at Thames Magistrate’s court, Mr Tharmalingham was placed in a cell and due to be checked every 5 minutes in accordance with SERCO policies. Cell checks however were not carried out every 5 minutes.

Mr Tharmalingham was checked at Shortly after 11am a custody officer checked the cell and found Mr Tharmalingham on the floor unconscious. Emergency services were called and resuscitation commenced however there was no defibrillator at the court. Mr Tharmalingham was pronounced dead a short while later by paramedics.

A recent report by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that poor conditions within court cell and recommended urgent improvement.

Mr Tharmalingham’s family hope that the inquest will be able to answer their questions and concerns about the care and treatment he received from police officers whilst he was in police custody and at Thames Magistrates Court.

The family is represented at the hearing by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton and Christina Juman from Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and barrister Jesse Nicholls of Doughty Street chambers.