12 March 2021

The following statement was read on behalf of Margaret Briggs outside court, at the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Leon Briggs:

“Seven and a half years ago, my life changed forever, when my son, Leon, was cruelly and brutally taken away. On this day his children lost a devoted and much loved father.

Since then all we have wanted was to understand how a vulnerable man who needed help could end up dead in police custody. 

During this inquest we have heard evidence that has convinced me that Leon was unlawfully killed by the police.  This should have been the conclusion today. 

I would like to thank the Coroner for the time and space she has allowed for Leon’s story to be told; and my legal team who ensured that questions were put to the police that should have been answered years ago. 

I cannot face watching the video footage or listening to the audio of Leon crying out for help.  But over the last two months I have made myself sit through evidence as I needed to know what happened to him. 

I have been truly shocked by the brutality of the treatment of Leon and by how he suffered in his last hour of life.  He committed no crime and yet he was restrained face down on the floor - with force used against him - and he was shackled. 

I have been shocked by the utter disregard for his life as he lay dying on the police cell floor.

Why did the police choose to treat my son, who was mixed race, as if his life had no value?  They took away his human rights.

How can a family move on from this?  I do not know but all we can do is carry on the best we can.

We hope that Leon’s inquest will increase awareness about deaths in police custody.  It is not just in America where this is happening but right here on our doorstep.

Over the last 7 and a half years we have faced what can only be described as a travesty of justice.  Instead of learning lessons from what happened the police have closed ranks.  They have tried to disrupt and derail the investigation from the start. 

However, I remain determined that lessons will be learned from Leon’s death and those responsible will be brought to justice eventually.

We would appreciate it if the public and the media would respect our choice for privacy at this time.”