Family of Torquay dad Simeon Francis demand answers over death in police cells

The heartbroken family of a 35-year-old Torquay man who died in a police cell last month have broken their silence to demand answers.

Simeon Francis' family has spoken for the first time since he was found unresponsive in the custody suite at Torquay police station on May 21, following his arrest in Exeter in the early hours of the day before.

They said: "We are devastated at the news of his death and now seek justice for him.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the father-of-one while he was in the care of Devon and Cornwall Police.

Mr Francis, who was originally from Birmingham, moved to Torquay 16 years ago. He had one child aged 10 years old.

His siblings, who live in Torquay, said: “No matter what Simeon’s past was, he was our brother and well-loved.

“We want answers as to why he died in these circumstances."

We are shocked and devastated at the sudden loss of my beautiful son Simeon. As a father, I would never have expected to be dealing with the death of a child in such circumstances. The family and I are seeking answers as to what happened to Simeon.

Simeon's father

The family said in a statement: "The news of the death of another black man whilst in Police Custody raises again the concerns regarding the dis-proportionality of black people dying in custody."

Bishop Dr Desmond Jaddoo, who is assisting the family through this process, said: “Sadly we are here again supporting another family who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one.

“Clearly, without making any allegations at this point, Devon and Cornwall Police must be held to account as to what happened to Mr Francis while he was in their custody and their duty of care towards him.

“The family’s request is a simple one - why is Simeon dead?”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has already confirmed that a preliminary post-mortem examination has been held, which did not identify a cause of death for Mr Francis. Further tests will be carried out.

Devon & Cornwall Police statement