Manslaughter probe launched against officers after man dies in police van in Cornwall

Stephen Reardon, from St Austell, died after being arrested and transported to Newquay police station.

Two police officers are being criminally investigated for manslaughter after a 34-year-old man became unwell in the back of a police van and died.

Stephen Reardon was arrested by Devon and Cornwall Police officer in July after a car was reported as being driven erratically in the area.

He was handcuffed and transported in the back of a police van for the 17-mile journey from where he was arrested in St Austell to Newquay police station.

Mr Reardon became unwell at some point during the journey and officers administered first aid in the yard of the station after arriving.

Mr Reardon was then taken to hospital but did not survive.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the incident.

In an update issued on Monday 25 September, the watchdog said an initial post-mortem proved inconclusive and the results of further tests are awaited.

It also confirmed it has notified two police constables - the driver and passenger in the police van - that they are under criminal investigation.

They are being investigated for possible gross negligence manslaughter relating to their monitoring and care of Mr Reardon while he was in the police van, according to the IOPC.

Mr Reardon was given treatment at the police station before being taken to hospital but he did not survive. Credit: Google

The officers have also been served with a gross misconduct notice.

IOPC regional director David Ford said: “I once again express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Reardon for their loss.

"We are regularly updating family members and advising them of the progress we are making with our investigation.

"Due to the fact Mr Reardon became unwell during his detention by officers from Devon and Cornwall Police, we need to thoroughly and independently examine all the circumstances. This includes of Mr Reardon’s arrest, the level of care provided to him during the journey to Newquay and on arrival at the police station. We are also considering whether officers acted in accordance with policies and procedures".

The watchdog says its investigation is "progressing well" and it is gathering evidence including body-worn footage, statements from relevant officers and CCTV from the station and house-to-house enquiries.

The IOPC says Devon and Cornwall Police are fully cooperating with the investigation.

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