First, as we approach the eighth week of the Inquest into Seni’s death, we would like to thank all of you who have sent messages of support, attended the hearing and kept us in your thoughts for the last six and a half years.
And we thank God for Seni himself whose voice shines through the words of others who have been called to give evidence: he would have turned 30 on Wednesday 22nd March this year.
As we sit listening to the accounts of the events of 31st August 2010 culminating in Seni’s fatal restraint by police officers the at Bethlem Royal Hospital, we have hoped against hope to hear that he did not suffer. Sadly, the picture that is emerging is disturbing and distressing, to say the least.
For us, there is great solace when the court is full of our family and friends: it encourages us to keep strong and shows the court depth of our collective grief for the life Seni never got to live.
So please come and join us at the inquest between 10am and 4.30pm, Monday to Thursday, at: South London Coroners Court, 2nd Floor Davis House, Robert St, Croydon CRO 1QQ.
There is more than sufficient room for all who wish to join us in court: we sit behind our legal team, and in front of them sit the legal teams for the other interested persons at the inquest, i.e.: (1) South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM); (2) the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS); and (3) the individual officers from Bromley Police Station who were involved in the fatal restraint.
We consider that it is vitally important that we and the jury at the inquest should be able to concentrate on the evidence as it emerges through questioning of witnesses. We would therefore respectfully request all who join us to stay quiet during the hearing, however difficult that might be given the nature and the content of the evidence as it emerges.
Dates for the Upcoming Weeks
The inquest will resume to hear evidence from the police officers involved in the fatal restraint on Thursday 23rd March and then again on Monday 27th March. Throughout the rest of that week, and then again the following week (commencing Monday 3rd April), evidence will follow from staff and management at Bethlem Royal Hospital as well as relevant expert witnesses. The inquest is expected to take a break in the week commencing Monday 10th April before it concludes in the week commencing Monday 17th April.
We must deeply thank our legal team at the inquest: Karon Monaghan of Matrix Chambers and Alex Gask of Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by Raju Bhatt Sophie Naftalin of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, with assistance and support from Alex Bennie. While showing kindness and sensitivity towards us during this emotional and difficult process, they have examined and probed as rigorously and thoroughly as possible each witness who has been called to give evidence. They have given voice to the very many questions we had in our minds about the circumstances in which Seni died, for which we are very grateful.
Olaseni Lewis, known as Seni to his family and friends, died on the 4th of September 2010 after being restrained by up to 11 policemen whilst he was seeking help as a vulnerable voluntary patient at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Croydon.
He had been admitted early in the evening of Tuesday 31 August 2010 and had been at the hospital for only a few hours before this incident occurred.
This campaign has been established by his family to find the truth surrounding Seni’s death.
Seni Lewis was a son, a brother, an uncle, a grandson, a friend. He was so loved by his family and friends and could be counted on in times of need. Seni was a kind, loving and easy going individual who would always make time for people.
Aged just 23 he had recently graduated from university – he was fit and healthy and was engaged in a post-graduate Masters Degreee in IT and Business Management at Kingston University. Seni Lewis was a optimistic young man who spread joy to all who knew him, he enjoyed life to the full.
A short report by BBC reporter Kurt Barling was aired by the BBC. You can view the video below. You can also see the original video and article at Kurt Barlings blog (click here)
The charity organization Inquest says that about 4,500 people died in prison or police custody in the UK between 1990 and 2013.
Despite this figure, there has not been one successful homicide prosecution in this entire period – in fact not for over 30 years.
So, is this a staggering figure that indicates a dark side to policing in the UK or just a tragic reality of what sometimes happens in the justice system? Are the police innocent or is this the case that these people are innocently killed?
Check out the video below containing interviews with Ajibola Lewis and Conrad Lewis, Seni’s parents.
UK: State violence against black patients exposed in UN report
The UK’s leading black mental health pressure group has presented a scathing report to a special UN session entitled ‘State Violence Against People of African Descent in the UK’. The document raises a number of human rights concerns over the treatment often experienced by black people in the UK, especially those detained under the Mental Health Act.