Custody death at Heathrow airport

Custody death at Heathrow airport

Written by: Harmit Athwal

Paul Yorke, a 38-year-old mixed-race man, died after being arrested by police officers at Terminal Two of Heathrow airport on 2 November.

He was taken to Heathrow police station where he was charged with being a ‘prohibited person’ (it is alleged that he had been banned from airport property) and then detained in a cell. He was, according to the police, seen by a Forensic Medical Examiner on at least three occasions and deemed fit for detention. However, the following day, officers called an ambulance at 7.00 am after he was found collapsed in his cell. He was taken to Hillingdon hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Police Complaints Authority and the Directorate of Professional Standards are investigating his death. A post-mortem was held soon after the death but results are ‘inconclusive’ and further toxicology tests are being carried out over the next three weeks.

This is the second such Heathrow police station death. In October 1997, a 67-year-old homeless woman, Melponieni Hagemis, believed to be from the Middle East, and who had been sleeping rough at the airport, was also found dead at Heathrow police station.

Related links

Black deaths in custody – IRR factfile


United Families and Friends Campaign

Injustice – a film by Migrant Media

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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