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IOPC does not uphold complaints against Kent Police after death of East Malling man

Complaints raised to a police watchdog after a young man's death have not been upheld.

Richard Betts, 23, died after his father, who had been attacked by his son and feared for his life, pinned him on the floor for up to 40 minutes while waiting for the police.

Richard Betts died in June 2018
Richard Betts died in June 2018

During an inquest, Angela Smith, the mother of Richard Betts said she blamed the police for her son's death because she believed they didn't arrive quickly enough at the family's East Malling home, in Larkspur Close, where the fight took place in June 2018.

A Kent Police inspector admitted in the hearing, held last month, that despite the incident being categorised as "immediate", which means there is a danger to life, officers were not able to get there sooner because of "significant" resource issues.

A voluntary referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in relation to the force's response to the incident and the watchdog launched an investigation.

In a report published yesterday, the IOPC said it considered seven complaints raised by Mr Bett's family.

It went on: "We took statements from officers who were treated as witnesses throughout and examined evidence including body worn video.

Police outside the East Malling house in Larkspur Close in June 2018
Police outside the East Malling house in Larkspur Close in June 2018

"Six of the complaints were not upheld, with a seventh, relating to minor damage to an item within the property, being partially upheld but also deemed to have been resolved by Kent Police.

"At no stage during the investigation were any matters of conduct identified against any police officer or member of staff serving with Kent Police.

"We provided a report to Kent Police who agreed with our opinion."

At the inquest, coroner James Dillon said he was satisfied the force followed their procedures.

He said: "The issue was not that they failed to deal with the call, the issue was that they didn't have the resources to deal with the call."

He said Mr Betts Snr, also called Richard, who attended the inquest, was "defending himself in his own home".

Mr Bett's Snr pleaded with his son, who had a history of drug and alcohol misuse and had arrived at the family home with a spade and screwdriver, shouting and screaming, to calm down and accept help before he restrained him on the kitchen floor.

Relatives, including children and a pregnant woman, hid upstairs while this went on.

Mr Betts Snr had said he would get off his son when officers arrived, repeatedly asking where they were and shouting that they need to hurry up.

Officers took 49 minutes to arrive after they were called.

The 23-year-old dad died after his father sat on his lower back, suffering multiple organ failure and a heart attack. He was resuscitated but the damage to his organs and brain were too severe and he died at Maidstone Hospital the next day.

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