An inquest into the death of a man who dies whilst he was in the process of being deported from the UK was unlawfully killed’, an inquest has ruled. The inquest into Jimmy Mubenga’s death delivered the verdict  by a majority of nine to one after four days of deliberation following an eight-week hearing.

As previously reported on the Farleys blog, Jimmy  Mubenga 46, was being escorted by staff from the private security firm G4S to Angola on a British Airways flight when he died after becoming ill as the aircraft prepared to leave the Heathrow in October 2010.  Mr Mubenga was being deported from the UK after serving a two-year prison sentence for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

During the inquest, it was heard how Mr Mubenga was restrained by security guards Terence Hughes, Stuart Tribelnig and Colin Kaler. The jury found he died of cardio-respiratory collapse, in which the heart stops beating and a person stops breathing. Other passengers said they heard Mr Mubenga saying he could not breathe, with one of the guards apparently replying: “Yes, you can.”

Returning the verdict, the jury foreman said: “Based on the evidence we have heard, we have found Mr Mubenga was pushed or held down by one or more of the guards’.  “We find that this was unreasonable force. The guards would have known that they would have caused harm to Mr Mubenga, if not serious harm.”

Was this a death waiting to happen? Have the authorities failed to properly assess the use of force on immigration removal flights?

Campaigners say that two years before Mr Mubenga died; they warned the UK Border Agency of the dangerous use of force during immigration removals. Medical Justice, a charity that provides clinicians to independently examine immigration detainees, looked at 300 cases of people facing immigration removal.  It found in a report that 42 people had their heads forced downwards by security officers in a way that made it difficult for them to breathe.

Positional asphyxia can result from any restraint position in which there is restriction of the neck, chest wall or diaphragm, particularly in those where the head is forced downwards towards the knees. Restraints where the subject is seated require caution.

Jimmy Mubenga’s death highlights a serious need for stricter regulations regarding the deportation of detainees and the dangers of restraint techniques used.

Farleys has a team of solicitors specialising in inquests and claims against the police or detaining authorities. For more information or to obtain legal advice in relation to an inquest or police complaint, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

By Kelly Darlington, Inquest Lawyer