INTRODUCTION

Roger's death under the circumstances we've described is not uncommon. The scenarios in this case echo those of the hundreds of cases before it, many more since and sadly more to come.

You have to say there is something shameful about a system where people die in custody, where the victim committed no crime, yet no one is accountable, and no one has ever been convicted of any wrongdoing, even when death is considered unlawful killing within that system.

It's now near two years since his horrific death and we are still no closer in finding out the truth. To date no one has been deemed responsible, and no actual account has been given of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Essex Police had completed two investigations into Roger's death. The PCA certified that it was happy that the investigations were thorough, so it was officially signed off on the 30 October 99 and the papers were formally sent to the CPS.

Eight months on and we learned for the first time there had been a third inquiry into Roger's case, which started after they issued their interim certificate. This inquiry relates to crucial evidence gone missing that came to light during the original investigation by Essex Police, and coming at a time when we were told by them and the Police Complaints Authority that all evidence were under lock and key.

It turned out that this new inquiry relates to a missing page from one of the officers' Incident Report Book.

I'll just summerise this. We've had a thorough investigation by EP, certified complete and okayed by the PCA, a report is then submitted to the CPS but with what could be vital evidence missing.

I say vital because, as we have learned from other cases, details from the officers' I.R.Bs are the only way and I stress the only way to determine the minute by minute account of what actually happened.

THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE.

We are quite concerned that the CPS could make a decision based on the selective information submitted to them by Essex Police, who - by the way - has a cosy reciprocal arrangement with the MET on investigating cases of this kind. (You investigate this case, next time we investigate yours).

As is the case between other forces throughout the land.

From the offset the authorities have total control of all matters, for the purpose of protecting officers and the establishment. They regulate the Information that comes in and goes out and each time such deaths occur they swiftly put into operation their network of agencies, offices and sections of the press to stifle the truth, distort facts, and to mislead the public at every stage throughout the process.

In the unlikely event that the crown decides to prosecute, the matter is then out of our hands. We will have no say in proceedings and history tells us that the crown, in such cases carry out these prosecutions reluctantly. So the likelihood of a successful prosecution is somewhat restricted. All of this is designed to protect officers of the crown.

I should also point out that even if a verdict is returned and is favorable to the family. The Crown always overturns the Verdicts on appeal.

THE DECISION

We recently learned that the CPS decision could not be made before the 20 November 00. But don't hold your breath, this is some 9 months after we were told that a decision was imminent and over 12 months since they received the papers from the Police Complaints Authority.

The delay in reaching a decision on whether or not to prosecute is wholly unacceptable and unreasonable. It is undermining the case and also demeaning to a family in grief.

We wait in anticipation of a positive response but everything points to an inquest, given the CPS past record of always showing reluctance to prosecute serving officers of the crown.

If there are no prosecutions an inquest will be held, but no one could tell us when that will be, or where it will be held. And although the incident happened in our neighborhood the authorities may decide to site the Inquest elsewhere which could deprive this community of a hearing or justifiably, of demonstrating the depths of our feelings on Roger's case.

PRE-INQUEST DISCLOSURE

Prior to an Inquest, disclosure of information to the family in order to discover how Roger died will be made just 28 days before the Inquest commences. Severely limiting our ability to work through and disseminate the mass of information from the volumes of documentation, reports and exhibits commissioned during the investigation.

THE INQUEST

Nearly all deaths in custody cases are directed to an inquest where the officers involved are allowed a high degree of Legal protection under the coroner's rules that governs the inquest.

For example, under Rule 22 officers are prevented from answering questions about their actions and responsibilities if the coroner or their legal council deemed the answer may be incriminating. So even then we may never know the officers account of what happened on the night.

You have to understand that this is a very autocratic setting with absolute power in the hands of the Coroner. It's an inquisitorial court to determine the cause of death not to attach blame. So the coroner can call witnesses, admits evidence and makes decisions as he/she sees fit.

We are therefore even more concerned about the delays, because in another Death in custody case in 1987 that of Clinton McCorbin. The coroner recommended to the jury that it will serve no purpose and would be wrong to prosecute the officers involved because of the passage of time between the incident and the inquest. The period referred to is some 20 months delay. In our case if and when we have an inquest over two years would have elapsed.

We feel that the investigation and the whole process serves to give the public the impression, all that could be done is being done to find out what actually happened and that justice will be administered. What we have found over these months however is contrary to this. At times it felt as though they were treating Roger as the perpetrator and the officers were the victims.

We feel therefore that the whole process is not designed to deliver justice to families like ours. The investigation into Roger's death lacks integrity and cannot be wholly independent or inspire public confidence as the police are investigating themselves. Then there is the shame in allowing families of the victims go through this arduous process knowing that dissolution and disappointment are the end result.

It is a mockery of the system when the authority that's being investigated (The MET in this case) owns the documents and exhibits of that investigation effectively having total control over who sees what. So it must be that such investigations are open to manipulation as they seek to protect their own.

Unsurprisingly documents are not readily disclosed if it is in their interest to do so. The PCA supposedly the supervisory body is powerless to act and from our perspective we have no doubt the two organisations are hand in glove. That is wholly unacceptable, and does nothing to instill confidence in the system.

Parts of the establishment have sought to undermine our family our campaign but more abhorrently they are trying to discredit Roger himself at every opportunity. At times we are made to feel like 'enemies of the state', because they see us as anti-police or anti establishment. All we want to know is how and why roger met his untimely death.

We need to have faith in the system and faith in those charged with the duty to protect us. It should be our right therefore to question inappropriate behavior of our protectors and make them accountable for their actions and they need to be accountable if we want justice in our society.

THE SYSTEM

You might have heard that the PCA in their annual report are keen to suggest the death rate has dropped this year compared to the last but they won't give you tangible evidence on how the figures have been obtained, how this was measured. Finding different ways to count the numbers does no prevent the system from failing us and it is failing us badly.

FAMILY CONCERNS

The family now has to cope with sinister developments where mysterious burglaries are taking place to their property, strange obscene phone calls are received at night.

Supporters of our campaign receiving hate mail and threats in the post. The family home is being targeted for false emergency calls.

That will never stop us demanding the truth and the only way we can bring about justice or make change is to keep speaking out.

These are some of the issues the victim families have to contend with. We feel that the whole process is designed to frustrate families, confuse the public, to deflect the horrors and the questionable actions of those concerned. It is also designed to have us fooled in the belief that they are acting in our interest.

In fact the state shows indifference to victim families. After they give back to us our dead they leave us to struggle on to seek justice for our loved ones. Families often have to carry out their own investigations while stricken with grief as we have. With no legal aid families have to rely on friends and relations, voluntary organisations and unions for practical and financial support.

And if we had the option to pursue a private prosecution the financial burden is staggering. In our situation we will have to start with a retainer or quarter of a million pounds. If we were to be unsuccessful well it beggars belief really having to meet the legal costs.

That's why in so many cases where hundreds have died in custody there are no convictions, no accountability, and no justice for people like us. So the killings go on you might say with impunity because from whatever angle you look at it officers of the crown are legally and financially protected. And the victim families have little or no redress.

Governments are doing little, hundreds have died but its as though they see it as a minority issue, not worth the bother.

It is quite clear that we need a Public investigation into deaths in custody, there should be on tinkering with the processes as it is. A Public inquiry to us is the only way to bring change to this shameful and discredited system.

We have all along demanded a full independent and open inquiry into Roger's death. Because as we see it, the system only allows for an investigation set up by the police, for the police, to investigate the actions of police.

We still demand the police officers involved be suspended and prosecuted if there is any wrongdoing.

We feel it is outrageous that they have not been suspended in this case. Not long before Roger died there was a case in Essex which some of you are aware of and we often use it as a comparison with our situation. It's the case where police officers from Essex Police were suspended, sentenced and imprisoned for cruelty to dogs. What message does this send about the value of the life of Roger or any other person.

In any event our case met the criteria for full suspension as Sir John Stevens The New commissioner of the MET agreed at a meeting with the family, as early as April last year but nothing has been done.

Once again they failed to treat a Black family with the respect and dignity we deserve.

CONCLUSION

We believe that Roger's death was the result of the actions of 8 individuals who should have been ensuring his wellbeing. These officers are people we are suppose to trust with our safety. It seems that what happened to Roger could happen to any of us at any given time, young or old.

For this family the reality is we cannot begin to rebuild our lives until we know the truth about Roger death. We know our quest for justice will not be easy but our love for Roger means our fight will carry on.

In closing I ask that we remember the victims families left behind to mourn their loved ones, and whether or not justice prevail, lets not forget the victims and how they died. With your support and our determination change will come so that Roger and all the other victims will not have died in vain.

Thank you.

 

Justin Waldron