On 19th October I am doing the Great West Run to raise funds for INQUEST. Two years ago I had never heard of that charity but in October 2012 my nephew, Thomas Orchard, died totally unexpectedly . . . and suddenly INQUEST became a prominent part of my family’s life.
Tom was a physically fit 32 year old with schizophrenia; in the lead up to his death he was doing brilliantly – going to the gym regularly, growing vegetables and employed as a church caretaker at St Thomas in Exeter where he was also a sidesman. Tom thought he no longer needed his medication but in fact it was contributing hugely to his wellbeing and he started to deteriorate without it. The police arrested Tom in Exeter city centre after he got into a verbal argument with someone; he was taken to the cells, found unconscious soon afterwards and died a week later, never having regained consciousness. We know that an emergency restraint belt – usually used on legs or arms – had been placed around his head during custody.
The IPCC have submitted a file of evidence which the CPS – nearly two years after Tom’s death – is still considering. There is the possibility of criminal prosecution of up to 7 people with charges including manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. As a family, we have now seen the CCTV footage of Tom’s arrest and time in the cell and we remain totally committed to securing justice for Tom and, clichéd as it sounds, to trying to ensure no other family has to experience this grief, sadness and frustration. INQUEST is helping us every step of the way – for these are steps we have never taken before and never, ever guessed we would need to take . . .
If you can, please sponsor me.