Three South Yorkshire Police officers disciplined after man dies in custody cell

Neil Budziszewski.
Neil Budziszewski.
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Three South Yorkshire Police officers have been disciplined over a raft of failings after a man died while being held in a custody cell.

Neil Budziszewski, aged 42, was arrested over an alleged theft and taken to Ecclesfield Police Station on May 2. He died the following morning after being found unresponsive in his cell.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission found cases to answer for misconduct for two sergeants who may have failed to complete risk assessments and custody records properly, and for possible failures in their actions concerning medical assessments and a shift change handover.

Custody sergeants Paul Tolero and Nigel Govier received written warnings from the force in 2014 for failing to have Mr Budziszewski seen by a doctor when he was heard retching, despite one being present.

An inquest was held into Mr Budziszewski’s death in 2015, which recorded that he died of heart disease, and heard concerns about the actions of a third member of staff - custody detention officer Gary Houlton.

The IPCC reopened its investigation and found evidence that officer Houlton may have failed to carry out appropriate checks and not complete documentation accurately. A disciplinary hearing in June 2016 found this amounted to misconduct and officer Houlton received a written warning. The police watchdog released their report into the case on January 20.

IPCC commissioner Carl Gumsley said: “It became apparent during the inquest that there was evidence which had not been as thoroughly investigated by the IPCC as it should have been.

“Whilst the original investigation had found evidence of failings by South Yorkshire Police and individual officers, it was apparent that the specific actions of CDO Houlton had not, in my view, been fully investigated.

“It was important for me to consider carefully what impact this information might have had on the original investigation. As a result I decided to re-open the investigation and look specifically at the actions of the custody detention officer; subsequently misconduct was proven and the investigation has now concluded.

“I have apologised to the family of Mr Budziszewski. I also requested an internal review to identify any organisational learning with the aim of avoiding such incidences in the future.”