Family Of Assault Victim Calls For Change After IPCC Investigation

Family Call For Lessons To Be Learnt After Police Mistakenly Think Brain Injured Son Was Drunk

08.10.2010

The family of an assault victim who was left for 11 hours without medical attention as his condition deteriorated whilst in the care of the South Yorkshire Police are supporting calls for the force to learn from its mistakes.

Dean Hutton, 23, from Wath-Upon-Dearne, sustained a serious brain injury during an assault, in which he was hit over the head with a scaffolding pole, before being taken to Rotherham Main Street Police Station.

Now, recommendations made by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for police officers to be provided with more information about head injuries are being supported by the family, and their solicitor from Irwin Mitchell.

Stacy Gee, a solicitor and brain injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Although Mr Hutton was assessed by a paramedic at the scene of the assault, the station’s custody sergeant failed to take on board advice that he had suffered a head injury and did not seek further medical help when Mr Hutton’s condition deteriorated, wrongly assuming he was drunk.

“It was only 11 hours later, when he was struggling to breathe and had blood around his mouth that officers acted, rushing him to Rotherham District General hospital.

“He was immediately transferred to Royal Hallamshire Hospital where he underwent an emergency craniotomy but, despite receiving treatment at Oakwood Centre for Rehabilitation Medicine in Rotherham until March 2010, he still suffers from ongoing physical, cognitive and behavioural difficulties.”

Following the incident in Masbrough on 8 August 2009 Dean’s attackers, brothers Brett and James Garbutt, were found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent at Sheffield Crown Court and were sentenced to seven years, five months and five years imprisonment respectively.

An investigation by the IPCC found that the custody sergeant failed to complete an adequate risk assessment, and did not consider all of the information available to him when assessing Mr Hutton’s condition.

It also found that at the handover of his shift he did not visit each of the detainees, and that handover meetings were unstructured, informal, not documented, and did not make specific reference to each detainee - all of which are against national police guidelines.

Stacy said: “Had the police taken note of the fact that Mr Hutton had suffered a head injury and consequently recognised the symptoms he showed through the night, he would have received medical attention much sooner.

“This case demonstrates the importance of the recommendations made by the IPCC and we hope that lessons will not only be learned, but shared nationally to prevent anyone else suffering from a similar set of failures in the future.”

Roy Hutton, Dean’s father, said: “Before his brain injury, Dean was completely independent but now needs our help with almost everything he does.

“We are angry that Dean’s injury was not spotted by police officers sooner, and hope that the changes recommended by the IPCC are taken on board so that nothing like this ever happens again.”

Irwin Mitchell is now investigating whether the delay in Dean receiving treatment caused him to suffer more damage than he would otherwise have done, in order to provide for the care and rehabilitation he now needs.