Officer may have seen Mohamud Hassan 'collapse' in police van prior to death, inquest heard

Mohamud Hassan was found dead in his home after spending the previous night in a police station.

A police officer might have witnessed a young man "collapse" before he was released from police custody and hours later died, a pre-inquest hearing has heard.

Mohamud Mohammed Hassan was initially arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace at his home on Newport Road, Roath on the evening of 8 January 2021.

The 24-year-old was released from Cardiff Bay police station the following morning and found dead in his bed at 10:30pm that same day.

The death of Mr Hassan, who was of Somali heritage, sparked protests calling for answers from police.

During a pre-inquest hearing in Pontypridd on Friday (October 7), Counsel Alex West said there may be evidence that an officer involved in the restraint of Mr Hassan witnessed him "collapse" in the back of a police van.

The death of Mr Hassan sparked protests calling for answers from police. Credit: PA

Mr Hassans' family lawyer Nick Armstrong said the focus has moved towards police "care" and emphasised a need for a jury: "There was a heavy police response, overnight custody, and a death in a way which remains unexplained. Determining the facts around that is a matter of some sensitivity and it should be a jury of peers who look at that rather than a coroner alone."

But Jason Beer KC, representing South Wales Police, said there had been a "very thorough" investigation into the death.

He said: "As it stands there is no possible connection between anything done or not done by police officers or members of police staff, and Mr Hassan's death."

Coroner Graeme Hughes explained that the post-mortem can "exclude a physical causal link between the actions of officers during the period of detention and the cause of Mr Hassan's death."

He also called for clarity around the health of Mr Hassan and questioned "whether there might have been omissions surrounding Mr Hassan's presentation at the time of the arrest and thereafter", suggesting the possibility of diabetes needs to be explored.

For that reason, the coroner said he is not ruling out sitting with a jury, but he is "not minded at this time" to do so and will make a decision in February.

Later in the hearing, he explained: "It does appear that very much the central issue in this case is going to surround Mr Hassan's presentation from the moment officers attend on January 8 through all the time until he's found unconscious in his flat on Newport Road."

Mr Beer from South Wales Police told the coroner: "There is no evidence that Mr Hassan was a type one diabetic or any type of diabetic. There is no evidence diabetes played a role in his death and no evidence Mr Hassan was displaying any symptoms of a hypoglycaemic episode."

The inquest is due to start on 8 May 2023 and is estimated to last 10 days with evidence from 29 witnesses.