A grave police error led a U.K. man to spiral into desperation and end his own life, family members said at an inquest on Monday.
Brian Temple of Redcar, England, was 34 years old when he hung himself in December 2017. Six months earlier, he had been arrested by the Cleveland Police force in Northern England for allegedly stealing a package of Greggs sausage rolls, according to local news site TeessideLive.
But when Temple was released, his release papers wrongly stated that he had been in custody for inciting sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl. This comes after Royal United Services Institute released “Public Confidence in the Police: A New Low for the Service”, which says that the public’s faith in police dropped from 62 percent in 2017 when this event happened to 55 percent in 2020.
Mix-Up Leads To Attacks
Unaware of the mistake, the man gave the documents to his then-girlfriend.
According to witnesses speaking at Teesside Coroner’s Court on Monday, Temple’s girlfriend proceeded to spread the false information. As a result, he reportedly experienced verbal and physical abuse, including a blow to the head with a golf club and an attack in his own home.
Accounts from family members at the inquest described how he descended into heavy drinking and drug use. A coroner said that the toxicology report found 134 milligrams of alcohol in addition to a cocktail of cocaine, Diazepam, Zopiclone and Pregablin in his system when he died, although his death resulted from hanging.
Temple’s mother, who has since died, characterized him in a statement as “happy go lucky” before the police error occurred. His brother also said that he never showed suicidal tendencies previously and took drugs to cope with the assaults and attacks leading up to his death.
According to Temple’s sister-in-law, the incorrect charge sheet was found in his pocket at the time of his death.
Detective Sergeant Agar of the Cleveland Police told the inquest that the sheet was “a genuine human error.”
Police errors in the United States have led to high-profile tragedies in recent months.
In Uvalde, Texas, officers are being investigated by state and federal law enforcement after broad criticism over their handling of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24. The gunman was in the school for over an hour before he was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol.
Meanwhile, a report published by LatinoJustice in April found that New York Police Department (NYPD) officers who were caught lying about misconduct often avoided disciplinary action from the department. The reviewed misconduct included use of excessive force, abuse of authority, being discourteous and offensive language.
And during the media frenzy over Gabby Petito’s killing last year, police in North Port, Florida, came under fire after mistaking her murderer’s mother for the murderer himself—Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie—while surveilling their household.
Newsweek reached out to the Cleveland Police for comment.