Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Jury finds neglect in Nunez Inquest

Five day hearing comes to a close - by Brian Reyes

The jury in the Clive Nuñez inquest yesterday returned a verdict of “suicide contributed to by neglect”, bringing to a close a five-day hearing into the circumstances surrounding his death while in police custody.

The jury also attached a ‘rider’, or recommendation, to its verdict, asking that the Royal Gibraltar Police “ensure that new procedures for the custody and care of prisoners are adhered to and continuously checked by the responsible officers.”

The nine members of the jury concluded that Mr Nuñez, who was 38 years old at the time, had died by hanging at 4.15am on October 14, 2001.

Mr Nuñez hanged himself in his cell in New Mole House station after having been arrested for being drunk and disorderly following a family dispute.

The inquest had previously heard how police officers on duty that night did not visit Mr Nuñez physically, and how checks carried out using CCTV monitors had failed to detect what had happened inside his cell.

The Coroner’s Court had also heard how it took nearly five hours before his body was discovered.

Since Mr Nuñez’s death, procedures for prisoner surveillance and care at New Mole House have been reviewed and tightened.

Yesterday the Nuñez family, in a statement read out by their lawyer Elliott Phillips outside the court, said the case had illustrated deficiencies in the system of prisoner supervision at New Mole House and asked that lessons be learnt. “This case has taken a long time to come to court and the family would like to express their relief that this matter has now been publicly scrutinised,” the family’s statement said.

“The case has outlined the procedural deficiencies within the system, especially with regard to the detention of vulnerable persons.

It is the family’s most further wish that Clive’s death will not be in vain and that lessons are learnt from his tragic and untimely death.

It is regrettable that a person had to lose their life in order for the powers that be to amend their procedures.

The family hope that no other family in Gibraltar will have to endure what they have in the last three and a half years.”

The Royal Gibraltar Police did not comment in any detail on the case yesterday, except to say that it had taken note of the outcome of the inquest and was consulting with the Attorney General’s chambers.

Related Article:

18 June 2005 - Court focuses on cell check procedure

17 June 2005 - Repeated CCTV checks, man was dead all along

16 June 2005 - Drama of final moments unfolds

15 June 2005 - Inquest shown cell death video footage

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