Before HM Senior Coroner Heidi J. Connor
Reading Coroner’s Court
Town Hall, Blagrave St, Reading RG1 1QH
Opens Tuesday 15 November
Scheduled for three weeks

Neal Saunders, 39, died on 4 September 2020 following prolonged restraint by Thames Valley police officers. The inquest into his death will reopen on 15 November, to establish the full circumstances of his death.

His death is one of a series of concerning deaths in contact with Thames Valley police, including other deaths involving restraint.

Neal was from Berkshire. A well-loved member of his community who was always willing to help others out, Neal’s father said he was “like a brother to so many people”. He described Neal as a very hard worker, fashionable and a “mummy’s boy”.

On the night of the incident Neal was in his father’s flat in Langley, Berkshire when he began behaving strangely. Unsure how to calm him down, his father called the police. Shortly after midnight on 4 September 2020, two Thames Valley police officers began restraining Neal on the sofa.

Soon after, two more police officers arrived. By 00:20 on 4 September, Neal was restrained on the floor, handcuffed and in leg restraints. At one point Neal’s arm looked visibly purple and he can be heard on two occasions telling officers “I can’t even breathe”.

Neal was restrained for an hour and fifteen minutes. He suffered cardiac arrest was taken by ambulance to Wexham Park Hospital. The entire period of restraint is captured on body worn video and ambulance CCTV which will be shown to the jury.

Neal was pronounced dead that day at 1pm.

Evidence, which will be examined at the inquest, suggests Neal was experiencing symptoms of Acute Behaviour Disturbance. This is a set of symptoms which often arise during restraint, which police are generally trained to recognise and respond to as a medical emergency.

The inquest, which is scheduled for three weeks, will examine the actions of police in their response to Neal, their restraint of Neal, and the care he received after that.



For further information please contact Leila Hagmann on [email protected].

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Rachel Harger of Bindmans LLP and Ifeanyi Odogwu of Matrix Chambers. The INQUEST caseworker is Jodie Anderson.

Other interested persons represented at the inquest are Thames Valley Police and South Central Ambulance Service.

Other Thames Valley police related deaths:

  • Brian Ringrose, 24, died on 2 February 2021 following restraint by Thames Valley police officers. Five officers have been advised that they are under investigation for alleged gross negligence manslaughter and unlawful act manslaughter. One of the officers is also being investigated for alleged common assault. The inquest into his death is awaited. See media coverage.

  • Nuno Cardoso, 25, died following contact with Thames Valley Police in Oxford on 24 November 2017. He was restrained and struck with a baton during an arrest, in which it was suspected he had swallowed a package of drugs. Despite this potentially being a medical emergency, he was taken to the police station and not a nearby hospital. He fell seriously ill in the police van and later died. See media release.

  • Adam Stanmore, 37, died on 13 June 2019 following contact with mental health services and Thames Valley police at a time when he was suicidal. Armed response officers discharged Taser and used force to restrain Adam, removing a knife from him. He told police he was suicidal, but when they handed him over to the care of paramedics they did not inform them and he was able to leave the ambulance and later died by suicide. The inquest was critical of the police, ambulance and mental health services. See media release.

  • William Cameron, 38, died whilst in the care of Thames Valley police officers in Loddon Police Station, Reading on 8 January 2020. A police sergeant and health care professional are currently subject to a criminal investigation in relation to his death. See media coverage.

  • Leroy Junior Medford, 44, died whilst in the care of Thames Valley police officers also in Loddon Police Station, Reading on 2 April 2017. The inquest into his death had a highly critical narrative conclusion, identifying individual and systemic failures. His death related to consumption of drugs, and a lack of awareness and action from police. See media release.

  • Habib “Paps” Ullah, 39, died when he was stopped and searched by police on 3 July 2008 in High Wycombe. In the course of being forcibly restrained, Habib suffered a cardiac arrest. He was taken to hospital but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The inquest into his death concluded in 2015 and was highly critical of the use of force by Thames Valley police. See media release.

  • Philmore Mills, 57, was being treated in hospital for lung cancer and pneumonia, when he died after police restraint on 27 December 2011. He was subject to restraint by Thames Valley Police, including being handcuffed and pinned face down for an extended period of time. An inquest concluded that restraint and communication failures contributed to his death. See media coverage.