6 November 2023

Before HM Senior Coroner Philip Spinney
Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner’s Court, at County Hall, Exeter
Scheduled 6 November – 15 December 2023 (with overflow to 22 December)

Thomas Orchard, 32, died following police restraint in October 2012. Eleven years on the inquest into his death will resume.

On the morning of 3 October 2012, Thomas was detained in Exeter City Centre by Devon and Cornwall police officers and transported to Heavitree Road police station where an Emergency Restraint Belt, which had been authorised by Devon and Cornwall police as a bite and spit hood, was placed around his face. 

Shortly after midday Thomas was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was subsequently pronounced dead on 10 October 2012. Thomas had a history of serious mental illness.

Following Thomas’ death an independent investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC, predecessor to the Independent Office for Police Conduct) was begun. Thomas’ inquest was subsequently suspended by Elizabeth Earland, then HM Senior Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon to allow for criminal proceedings related to Thomas’ death to take place. 

Following the conclusion of previous proceedings, Thomas’ family requested that the inquest be resumed and, in May 2022, Philip Spinney, HM Senior Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon, determined that Thomas’ inquest should be resumed.

The inquest will now examine the circumstances of Thomas’ death.

The family of Thomas Orchard said: “It has been over 11 - tortuous - years since Thomas' tragic death and we welcome his inquest as our first opportunity to play a more active role in the proceedings and to finally get some answers.

We hope that the inquest process will be robust, with all those involved being open and honest, so that, as a family, we can, not only have our questions answered, but also ensure that Thomas' death can play its part in improving the treatment of those in mental health crisis and in preventing further deaths in police custody.”


The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose solicitors, Fiona Murphy KC and Alison Gerry of Doughty Street Chambers. They are supported by INQUEST’s Head of Casework Anita Sharma.

Other Interested persons represented are the Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall, PS Kingshott, PCs Kennedy, Nagle, Dodd and Conway, Detention Officers Marsden and Tansley, nurse Janet Zaloumis and Serco, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), Devon Partnership Trust.