Criminal law: ‘Unlawfully killed’ verdict opens up G20 officer to manslaughter charges

Criminal law: ‘Unlawfully killed’ verdict opens up G20 officer to manslaughter charges

On 3 April 2011, an eleven man jury found that Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who died during the G20 protests two years ago, had been “unlawfully killed”.

Now PC Simon Harwood, who struck Mr Tomlinson with a baton and pushed him to the ground, could face manslaughter charges.

The jury found that PC Harwood had “deliberately and intentionally” hit Mr Tomlinson with his baton and had then pushed him to the ground with “excessive and unreasonable force”, despite admitting to the jury that he did not think Mr Tomlinson posed a threat.

After being pushed to the ground, Mr Tomlinson got up but collapsed three minutes later and died.

The exact cause of death has proved a tricky point. The pathologist Freddy Patel who conducted the initial post mortem reported Mr Tomlinson died of a heart attack. However, he was later contradicted by three other pathologists who found bleeding in his abdominal and held that this was the cause of death.

Medical experts during the inquest maintained that the push to the ground by PC Harwood caused the internal bleeding that lead to Mr Tomlinson’s collapse and subsequent death.

The Crown Prosecution Service initially said that this confusion over the cause of death meant any attempted prosecution of the G20 officer would fail and therefore they would not be pursuing manslaughter chargers.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, will now look carefully at whether PC Harwood can be charged with manslaughter following the outcome of the inquest.

PC Harwood has expressed regret for his actions and maintains that he did not push Mr Tomlinson with great force and had not expected him to fall, let alone suffer an injury.

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