An inquest into the death of a 21-year-old black man, who died in Leicester in 1999 after a police chase, has ended with the coroner taking the unusual step of giving a ‘narrative verdict’, providing a more informative account than the traditional verdicts of ‘open’, ‘accidental’ or ‘unlawful’.
Spencer Weston received fatal multiple injuries when he was hit by a car at 2.30am on a Saturday night in August 1999, after running away from a large fight in the city centre. During the fight, bricks and bottles were thrown between white and black youths and both sides received serious injuries. Spencer suffered a head injury after being kicked to the ground outside a taxi office and subjected to racial abuse. He was then chased, along with other black men, by police officers who were attempting to make an arrest. The coroner suggested that the head injury that Spencer had received, together with ecstasy and alcohol which were found in his blood, may have impaired Spencer’s judgement and led to the fatal collision with a moving car. The driver of the car could do ‘little or nothing’ to avoid hitting Spencer, the inquest heard.
Spencer’s father, Walcott Hill, and his mother, Denise Weston, say that they feel vindicated in their view that the police never took the case seriously and were relieved that the inquest did not result in an accidental verdict. Speaking during the inquest, Walcott Hill said: ‘I feel that from day one, our concerns over Spencer’s death have not been properly addressed or answered. The non-attendance at court of many significant witnesses only serves to strengthen our view that we will not get justice from this inquest.’
Two police investigations in 1999 and 2001 failed to discover who assaulted Spencer Weston. The family are now awaiting the outcome of Police Complaints Authority investigations and will decide on their future course of action after the results are published.
A family campaign for justice, supported by the Leicester Civil Rights Movement, was launched in 2000, after the family grew increasingly frustrated with the police investigation.