Sheffield gran died after police push

Diane Botham left) with her daughter, Diane Docherty
Diane Botham left) with her daughter, Diane Docherty
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A frail grandmother died after being pushed from a doorstep by a police officer following an altercation, an inquest has ruled.

But the family of 61-year-old Diane Botham today said they were ‘disappointed’ the jury concluded the force used by the officer was ‘reasonable and necessary in the circumstances.’

The inquest heard Mrs Botham died at her home on Southey Green Road, Southey Green, following the row with South Yorkshire Police officers in August 2012.

Police had been called to a neighbouring property to deal with a serious incident involving a mother and daughter on Friday, August 10.

Mrs Botham, who lived a short distance away, arrived and was told to leave, the inquest heard.

She appeared drunk and had an argument with two officers during which she was pushed and she fell backwards from a step.

PC Thomas Rogers told the jury Mrs Botham tried to ‘barge’ past him so he used ‘minimal force’ to get her to move backwards and prevent a breach of peace continuing.

He and colleague PC John Shaw said they helped Mrs Botham to her feet and she continued to shout and swear before her son escorted her away.

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The inquest was told Mrs Botham had become increasingly unsteady on her feet in the weeks before her death and found it difficult to climb stairs.

She had been drinking throughout the day and after returning home Mrs Botham spent the rest of the day on the sofa in her living room, remaining there until the last member of her family went to bed at 2am. She was found dead the next day.

The jury concluded Mrs Botham died as a result of an acute subdural haematoma – a bleed between her skull and brain – caused by a blunt head trauma, which was triggered by the push by a police officer.

They added alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, ongoing stability and mobility issues, a hepatitis C infection and an atrophic shrunken brain also contributed to her death.

Following the inquest, Mrs Botham’s family said: “We are pleased with the conclusion that the push by a police officer played a part in our mum’s death but disappointed the jury thought the force used was reasonable.

“Our mum was a frail 61-year-old lady. We do not think that she posed a risk of violence.

“Nothing can lessen our sadness following our mum’s death. We continue to believe that our mum should not have been pushed by a police officer. Our family continues to miss our mum, sister, grandma and auntie, every day.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said the force had referred the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate.

He added: “The IPCC concluded the force used by the officer was reasonable, necessary, proportionate and justified and there was no case to answer for misconduct.

“The jury at the inquest found that the force used by the officer was reasonable and necessary.”

Nancy Collins, a specialist solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the family, said: “We have ensured there has been a proper inquiry into the use of force by a police officer which occurred shortly before Diane’s death.

“The evidence from the inquest demonstrated the use of force by the officer, which caused a 61-year-old frail woman to fall backwards off a step, was one possible cause of her death.

“The jury concluded the police push was the cause of death, but that the use of force was reasonable.”