South Yorkshire Police Admits Failings Led To Man Suffering Severe Brain Injury

Legal Battle For Man Left With Serious Brain Injury After Being Left Without Treatment for 10 Hours


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A 26-year-old-man who suffered a serious brain injury when he was assaulted with a metal bar before being left for 10 hours in a police cell with no medical treatment has taken the next step in his battle for justice.

Dean Hutton, 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.

His family instructed specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have been working to secure funds to help Dean with the rehabilitation treatment he needs to help with his recovery from the brain injury and the care he will need for the rest of his life.

The case was due to be heard at a five-day High Court Trial in March 2014, but South Yorkshire Police has now admitted full liability for his injuries after expert evidence gathered by Irwin Mitchell stated that had he received medical treatment for his head injury earlier, he would have made a full recovery. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was also critical of officers’ treatment of Dean.

Stacy Clements, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Dean, said:

Expert Opinion
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.

“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..

“It was only 10 hours later, when he was struggling to breathe and had blood around his mouth that officers acted, rushing him to Rotherham District General hospital.”
Stacy Clements, Associate

He was immediately transferred to Royal Hallamshire Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, but the damage had already been done and Dean had suffered from a serious brain injury. Despite receiving treatment at Oakwood Centre for Rehabilitation Medicine in Rotherham until March 2010, he still suffers from ongoing physical, cognitive and behavioural difficulties.

Stacy added: "The admission of liability now means we can concentrate on securing medical evidence to determine the level of treatment and rehabilitation Dean now needs as well as the care he will need for the rest of his life to help him live as independent a life as possible.

"We are now working to secure a full settlement which will then be managed by our Court of Protection team to ensure it can provide for Dean’s lifetime needs."

Dean was assaulted with a metal bar in August 2009 and sustained a brain injury - he was then arrested as South Yorkshire Police attended the scene and took him to Rotherham Main Street police station.  His head injury was not recorded and he was not risk assessed accordingly meaning that when his condition deteriorated, medical attention was not sought quickly enough.

Dean had vomited around an hour and a half after being taken into custody but no action was taken then or four hours later when officers were having difficulties rousing him – which should have been seen as warning signs of a serious head injury.

Eventually, 11 hours after being taken to the station, he began having a fit and an ambulance was finally called.
Following the incident, in Masbrough, 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.

Dean currently receives specialist rehabilitation and physiotherapy and needs support with daily activities such as planning his day and organising his life.  He attends Dearne Valley College three times a week for courses in Maths, English and IT and enjoys going out into the community with his support workers and going to the gym. 

Roy Hutton, Dean’s father, said: "Before his brain injury, Dean was completely independent but now needs help with almost everything he does. When we first heard about the brain injury we were so worried and we prepared for the worst. But Dean is battling back bravely and his rehabilitation has helped him come a long way.

"He is now attending college and we are just relieved that the Police have admitted responsibility meaning we don’t have to go to a full trial and that we should be able to access the care and rehabilitation Dean will need for the rest of his life.

"We are angry that Dean’s injury was not accounted for and so dealt with by police officers sooner. We were thankful to the IPCC for investigating and hope that nothing like this is allowed to happen to others again. Nothing can change what happened but thankfully now we can begin to move on with our lives knowing that Dean’s future will be secure."

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping with rehabilitation.