‘Death in custody’ family plan march on Limehouse police station

The family of Michael Sweeney, the 38-year-old scaffolder who died in police custody in hospital handcuffed to a trolley, plan a march on Limehouse police station in London’s East End.

It follows his funeral on Monday, four weeks after the night he was arrested while out celebrating news that he was to be a dad.

Michael, a fit man who twice ran the London Marathon, died in the Royal London’s A&E where he had been taken in a police van three hours before.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the circumstances of his arrest at Bethnal Green’s Approach Tavern on April 18.

“Michael died under circumstances that we yet have no answers to,” his brother David Bishop told the East London Advertiser last night.

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“Why was he cuffed to a hospital trolley face down with seven officers on top of him?

“Why was no ambulance available for more than 30 minutes, in this day and age?

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“I miss my little brother—he didn’t deserve to go like this.”

The family have affidavits from customers and staff at the pub who say he had calmed down by the time officers arrived.

They have been given his medical papers that they say show he was handcuffed to a hospital trolley with officers on top of him.

His brother added: “There are many deaths in custody each year—many families never get the answers they need.

“We wont give up the fight for answers for Michael, so a march is planned to Limehouse police station.”

The 38-year-old football and rock fan’s coffin was draped in West Ham colours at the City of London Crematorium while his favourite music was played, Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’ and Puff Daddy’s ‘Missing You.’

Canon Michael Ainsworth of St George’s-in-the-East, who conducted the service, told mourners: “Hurt and failure come with death—but let not the manner of Michael’s death cloud the memory of his life.”

The long funeral procession had earlier set off from his home at Bromley-by-Bow on Monday with 200 mourners with his partner Alexandra, 31, who is expecting their child in November.

The IPCC is investigating the decision to take him to hospital in a police van rather than an ambulance and what happened in the van and later at the hospital.

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said: “We now have accounts from various independent witnesses from the Approach Tavern, as well as medical staff and the police officers involved, but still want to hear from anyone who saw any part of the incident as it unfolded. We are awaiting results from forensic examinations and continue to pursue other lines of enquiry.”

The Commission is appealing for witnesses to call its investigation team on 020-7166 3000.

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