R v Director Of Public Prosecutions ex parte Alison O’Brien R v Director Of Public Prosecutions and Police Complaints Authority ex parte Olamide Jones

Wednesday 23 July High Court 10.30hrs Royal Courts Of Justice.

An unprecedented challenge will take place at the High Court on Tuesday 22 July where lawyers acting for the families of two men who died in police custody will seek to quash the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute police officers involved. This will be the first time that the spotlight of judicial review will be brought to bear on the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute police officers whose use of force has resulted in death and serious injury. In addition the Police Complaints Authority’s decision not to bring any disciplinary charges arising out of one of the cases is also under challenge.

It is INQUEST’s experience of monitoring deaths in custody that police officers guilty of wrongdoing in the course of their duties rarely face criminal or disciplinary proceedings and invariably, given the abysmal failure of the responsible Authorities in this respect, it is left to the family or complainant to bring the officers to answer for their conduct.

The Authorities will have to account for their failure to prosecute in these cases and to provide explanations for their perverse and illogical decisions that defy evidence heard at two inquests that the two men were the victims of the most horrendous police violence. The judicial reviews come at a time of increasing concern at the mechanisms for prosecuting and disciplining police officers and the lack of accountability at all levels of the criminal justice system.


Richard O’Brien. Died 24 April 1994, Walworth Road, South London.

He had 31 separate areas of injury to his body including cuts and bruising to his face and fractured ribs. Officers denied knowledge of any injury to him and could offer no explanation for the extensive injuries. Richard was placed face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back and his legs folded against his behind. Officers used physical force and restraint by placing two knees on his back and behind resulting in his suffocation. Inquest verdict 10 Nov. 1995 Unlawful killing. No criminal charges brought.

Shiji Lapite died 16 December 1994, Stoke Newington, London.

Evidence of pathologists revealed that he had suffered 36-45 separate injuries, that his larynx and neck were bruised and that his voice box was broken such was the force of the neck hold used. Officers admitted kicking him in the head and biting him. Inquest verdict: Unlawful killing. No criminal or disciplinary charges brought.

In both cases the jury unanimously reached their decision on the criminal standard of proof - beyond reasonable doubt - that they were satisfied that the force used on both men by the police officers was unlawful, unreasonable and excessive. In these circumstances the decision by the CPS not to bring any criminal charges defied not only the inquest juries verdicts and the normal rules of logic but the evidence itself. INQUEST have been working with the families and their lawyers and will be attending the judicial review which is expected to last three days.

Press interviews will be given.