Relatives of Jason McGowan, a black man found hanged in Telford three years ago, yesterday walked out of the inquest into his death in protest at the proceedings.
As soon as the jury had been sworn in, family members, along with their legal team, left the court. The McGowan family says it has no confidence in the hearing. At an earlier inquest into Jason’s death, held last year, the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Jason and his uncle Errol were both found hanged in Telford within six months of each other in 1999/2000. The McGowan family has maintained that West Mercia police failed to properly investigate their deaths. Jason had been investigating the death of his uncle, Errol, who died in July 1999 after repeatedly complaining of racial harassment.
Sinead McGowan, Jason’s wife, said: ‘My family has gone through exceptional hardship and living hell over the past three years. We did not only suffer one killing, but two, in the space of six months. The initial police investigation into Errol and Jason’s deaths were insufficient and our concerns were dismissed. I have lost faith in the inquest procedure. I do not want my family to continually suffer at the hands of the authorities. The McGowan family does not believe that we will get justice in these courts.’
A further concern of the relatives is the location of the inquest. They believe that it should not be held in Telford where, they say, a significant section of the town’s population is unsympathetic to the family.
Family members have been warned that they face imprisonment if they refuse to give evidence. Errol and Jason’s family has therefore decided, following legal advice, to give evidence on 12 and 13 February.