1. ITV Report

Police custody death inquest opens

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

A long-awaited inquest into the death of a schizophrenia sufferer while he was in police custody will begin today.

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.

He had earlier been arrested on suspicion of committing public order offences and attacking a police officer in Weir Road, Balham, before being taken to the police station, where he became ill.

He was seen by a doctor, and 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 at the 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 stopping 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.

His family said in a statement: "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."

The inquest will be held before Coroner Andrew Harris at Southwark Coroner's Court from 10am.

More on this story