2 May 2024

This is a media release by Hickman & Rose solicitors, reshared by INQUEST

Mohamud Hassan, a 24-year old British-Somali man, died at home, following recent contact with South Wales Police, in Cardiff on 9 January 2021.

Today, following a three-week inquest, a jury at Cardiff Coroner’s Court decided that the cause of Mohamud’s death was ‘unascertained’ and recorded an ‘open conclusion’ as to how he came about his death, at the direction of HM Senior Coroner for South Wales Central, Graeme Hughes.

Mohamud’s family are devasted at today’s outcome, but welcome some admissions made by the police in the course of the inquest and evidence that the family heard, but which the jury was unable to comment on for legal reasons.

The open conclusion, which was the only option available to the jury, is one that reflects the continued mystery of Mohamud’s death.   

The family take comfort that South Wales Police has publicly taken responsibility for the failure of one of the arresting officers to record important details on the custody record, and SWP’s assurances to the Court that changes are being made to information recorded on detainees’ custody records to make sure that the use of force and health conditions are recorded in future.

The family is concerned about the delay in implementing this change, and so welcomes the fact that the Coroner is following this up with the police to ensure these changes are fully implemented on SWP’s ‘Niche’ computer system, used by over 20 police forces in the UK.* 

The family are clear that all police forces nationwide, not just those that use the Niche system, need to ensure that all health concerns about detainees are recorded to enable full risk assessments and for the medical needs of detainees to be addressed. That did not happen in Mohamud’s case. 

Mohamud died at home, but the night before his death was held in police custody. Although the pathologist found no link between Mohamud’s injuries, and any cause of death, the family feels immense sadness that force and restraint were used on Mohamud some hours before he died.

The family agree with Professor Koepp’s statement during his evidence this week that “without a doubt” Mohamud’s presentation warranted medical investigation. 

The family said today: 

"The jury have returned an open conclusion. Our hearts remain broken: an open conclusion does not help us to heal. 

The evidence we have heard over the last three weeks leaves the medical cause of Mohamud’s death unascertained. We have heard from eminent and well-qualified medical experts in neurology, toxicology, cardiology and pathology, and yet no one could give a likely cause of death. 

We accept that an open conclusion was the only option available to the jury because of the uncertainty about Mohamud’s cause of death. Even though we understand this, sadly this doesn’t give us any sense of closure about Mohamud’s cause of death, but at least it honestly reflects the continued mystery. 

But we do know this: Mohamud did not see a doctor or healthcare professional when he arrived in custody. We agree with the medical evidence we heard that 'without a doubt' Mohamud’s presentation warranted medical investigation.  

We take comfort that South Wales Police have taken responsibility for the failure to record important details on the custody record, and that changes have been promised to the details recorded on the custody record to make sure that not only the use of force is recorded, but all health conditions or concerns are recorded in future. This important, potentially lifesaving change, should have been implemented before now and all police forces need to do this, not just the twenty or so forces that use the same system as South Wales Police. 

It causes us immense sadness that some of Mohamud’s last hours were spent in custody. 

We miss Mohamud every day, our family is missing a bright light and the hole his death leaves in our family can never be filled."


Note for editors 

The family’s legal team, supported by the legal charity, INQUEST, are: 

Counsel – Harriet Short and  Meghan Curran - One Pump Court Chambers 

Solicitors – Kate Maynard and Daniel Machover - Hickman and Rose solicitors 

*In future, apparently from October 2024, arresting officers will be prompted to answer the following question on the new custody records on the Niche system – ‘Is there any information you have gained from observing the detainee, from the detainee themselves or anyone else regarding their medical and wellbeing needs? You must include all information, even if you are not sure it is accurate. If so, describe to me in detail.’