£3.8m agreed for man paralysed in police custody

Gary Reynolds in hospital in 2009
Gary Reynolds in hospital in 2009

A MAN who slipped into a coma while under arrest will receive £3.8m compensation from Sussex Police – although the force accepted no responsibility for his injuries.

London’s High Court heard Gary Reynolds suffered a catastrophic head injury, which has left him wheelchair-dependent and in need of care for the rest of his life, shortly after being arrested in Brighton on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.

The 44-year-old, from Southwick, sued Sussex Police through his brother, Graeme Reynolds.

His lawyers told the court the claim had involved allegations that the arrest was wrongful and that Gary Reynolds was detained unlawfully.

His counsel, Simon Readhead QC, emphasised that there was never any claim that police officers had done anything directly to cause the head injury, but it was contended that he had suffered it whilst handcuffed.

The barrister said the case had now been compromised – without any admission of liability by the force – and a final settlement was approved in a brief hearing at London’s High Court.

Andrew Warnock QC, for Sussex Police, stressed that the force had agreed to the settlement without any admission of fault, for ‘economic’ reasons.

Approving the deal, and describing the case as ‘tragic and unusual’, Judge Patrick Moloney QC thanked Graeme Reynolds ‘on behalf of the public and the court’ for the devoted care and support he had given his brother.

The £3.8 million payout will be held in the Court of Protection for Gary Reynolds’ benefit and will be used to provide for his extensive care needs.

Mr Reynolds was arrested in West Street, Brighton, in the early hours of March 2, 2008, on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and was taken to the Brighton Police Custody Centre, in Hollingbury. The following morning, he was found unconscious in his cell and fell into a prolonged coma.

The case was investigated by the Independent Police Complaint’s Commission (IPCC) which, in 2010, found that it was not possible to conclusively say how Mr Reynolds had sustained his devastating injury.

The commission concluded that the actions of the police officers who arrested Mr Reynolds did not amount to excessive force, nor had any individual police officer abused their authority.

However, Commissioner Mike Franklin concluded: “The combined actions and inactions of Custody Sergeants and the Custody Assistants, who are private contractors, contributed to a systematic failure to adequately look after Gary Reynolds whilst he was in their care”.