Media Media releases Inquest into death of Leroy Junior Medford in Thames Valley police custody, opens Monday 7 June 2019 Before HM Senior Coroner for Berkshire Heidi J. ConnorReading Coroner’s Court, Reading Town Hall, Blagrave StreetOpens Monday 10 June 2019, 10amScheduled to 28 June 2019 Leroy ‘Junior’ Medford was 43 years old when he died in the care of Thames Valley Police officers at Loddon Valley Police station in the early hours of Sunday 2 April 2017. Junior was one of 23 people who died during or after police custody in 2017-2018, which was the highest figure recorded in 14 years, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Junior was from Reading. He was the father of eight children and was one of seven siblings. His family describe him as a much-loved brother, father and son. He was a well-known member of the community who would often support others through difficult times. Junior was arrested in Reading on 1 April 2017 and shortly after was admitted into Royal Berkshire hospital as police officers suspected that he had secreted drugs on his person. He was later discharged back into police custody where officers, who still suspected that Junior had secreted drugs between his buttocks, were tasked to keep Junior under constant observation. However, Junior was able to retrieve the secreted item and swallow it within minutes of being placed under constant observation. He was later found unresponsive in his police cell at around 4am and he was pronounced dead at 5:13am. The coroner will be holding an Article 2 inquest before a jury. It is hoped that the inquest into Junior’s death will explore a number of issues, including: The observations, suspicions and decision making of police officers when Junior was first arrested and then strip searched at Loddon Valley Police station; Junior’s treatment at Royal Berkshire hospital and the basis for his discharge from the hospital; The observations, suspicions and decision making of police officers and the on-duty Health Care Professional when Junior arrived back into police custody at Loddon Valley Police station and was strip searched again; The decision making of police officers after a third strip search when the package, previously identified during two strip searches, was no longer visible; The observations and monitoring of Junior thereafter until he was found unresponsive in his police cell. Marilyn Medford-Hawkins, Junior’s sister, and on behalf of the Medford family said: Junior was a much loved brother, father and son. He had a cheeky smile and was well known in the community as somebody who regularly befriended people who were in difficult situations. I was overwhelmed after Junior died with how many people approached me to tell me how Junior had helped them through difficult times. Junior was really vulnerable at the time of his death and police officers knew or should have known this and treated him as being at high risk of harm. As a family we have committed ourselves to the processes we are expected to follow in seeking justice for Junior, which includes the forthcoming inquest hearing. It has been over 2 years since Junior’s death and we remain completely invested in finally getting some answers to questions we’ve been asking ourselves since Junior died. Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: “There are serious questions about the actions of Thames Valley police and whether they failed in their duty of care towards Junior. This inquest must fully scrutinise the circumstances which led to Junior’s death, and whether it could have been prevented.” ENDS NOTES TO EDITORS For further information, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or email and Rachel Harger of Bindmans solicitors email. Marilyn Medford-Hawkins, the sister of Leroy Junior Medford, is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Rachel Harger of Bindmans LLP and Sean Horstead of Garden Court Chambers. A photo of Junior is available upon request. The other interested persons represented in the inquest proceedings are: Thames Valley Police; Royal Berkshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Mountain Health Care; Sergeant Clough; PC Archard; Mr Penn (retired police officer); Detention Officer Graham; Detention Officer Howarth; Noonan Services Group; and IOPC The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) most recent annual statistics on deaths during or following police contact in England and Wales, published on 25 July 2018 showed: There were 23 deaths in or following police custody, the highest figure recorded in the past 14 years, and an increase of nine since last year. 12 of the 23 people who died in or following police custody had mental health concerns. See the INQUEST media release and our rolling statistics on deaths in or following police contact for further information.