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  1. ITV Report

Jury considers police custody death

Sean Rigg died after being taken ill at Brixton Police Station in 2008 Photo:

A jury has today been sworn in at the long-awaited inquest into the death of a schizophrenia sufferer while he was in police custody.

Sean Rigg, 40, who had a long history of mental illness, died after being taken ill at Brixton police station in south London on August 21 2008.

The inquest into his death before Dr Andrew Harris at Southwark Coroner's Court opened today and a jury of nine women and three men will begin to hear evidence tomorrow.

Mr Rigg's sister Marcia Rigg-Samuel is expected to be the inquest's first witness.

Before his death, Mr Rigg had been arrested on suspicion of committing public order offences and attacking a police officer in Weir Road, Balham, south London.

He was taken to Brixton police station, where he became ill and was seen by a doctor.

An ambulance was called to take him to hospital but before it arrived his condition deteriorated and he was given CPR.

He was formally pronounced dead in hospital later that night.

A preliminary post-mortem examination showed no obvious signs of any injury that could have caused his death.

Mr Rigg, described as a talented musician by his family, was living in a high-support community mental health hostel at the time of his death.

He had a history of discontinuing use of his medication and falling into relapse, and had been detained by police under the Mental Health Act a number of times.

An inquest into Mr Rigg's death was opened and adjourned at Southwark Coroner's Court a week after his death, pending an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The proceedings which opened today come at a time when the Metropolitan Police and IPCC are under increased scrutiny following a series of controversial deaths and complaints against the force.

We have been battling for nearly four years to find out the truth of what happened to our brother that night.

Sean was doing great things in his life and it was devastating his life was cut short in this way.

Sean should have been safe in the care of the police and the mental health services.

We believe his death was wholly avoidable and welcome the chance for the evidence to be finally aired publicly and properly scrutinised.

– Mr Rigg's family

During the course of the seven-week inquest, the jury is expected to see CCTV footage filmed on the night of Mr Rigg's death.

They will also hear from the four arresting officers, the forensic medicine examiner who dealt with the case at Brixton police station, mental health professionals who took care of Mr Rigg and workers at the hostel where he lived.

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