Saturday, 29 March 2014

Judge may preside over Adam Rickwood inquest

A brief reminder of who Andrew Tweddle is

A SENIOR judge may preside over the anxiously-awaited inquest into the death of a 14-year-old boy in custody after North Durham coroner, Andrew Tweddle, was ordered to step down from hearing the case.

Adam Rickwood
Adam Rickwood

A SENIOR judge may preside over the anxiously-awaited inquest into the death of a 14-year-old boy in custody after North Durham coroner, Andrew Tweddle, was ordered to step down from hearing the case.

Although Mr Tweddles integrity was “not in doubt for a moment”, High Court judge, Mr Justice Burnett, ruled it was better to be “safe rather than sorry” at the forthcoming inquest into the death of Burnley teenager, Adam Rickwood.

Adam, the youngest person to die in a British penal establishment in modern times, strangled himself with a shoe lace at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, in Consett, County Durham, in 2004.

And his family are convinced that “systemic failures” at the centre – which is privately run by Serco Home Affairs Ltd – and the use of an “unlawful” restraint technique in the hours before his body was found may have contributed to his death.

Ruling that “prudence” was in favour of Mr Tweddle bowing out of the inquest, Mr Justice Burnett said he had already “committed himself” to certain views on the cause of the restraint and “the honesty of the Serco witnesses”.

The judge said it had already been established that Adam was “unlawfully restrained about six hours before his death”, and there is also “evidence that the unlawful restraint was not an isolated incident, but systemic”.

Turning to the issue of Mr Tweddles replacement, the judge said it would be “asking a great deal” for a part-time deputy coroner, who sits for only a few weeks a year, to step into his shoes and preside over what will be a lengthy and complex inquest.

Mr Justice Burnett said someone of “sufficient relevant experience” should be appointed to replace Mr Tweddle and that could be a serving or retired judge or a specialist coroner.

Following an earlier, month-long, inquest in May 2008, a jury found that Adam had deliberately taken his own life. However, that verdict was overturned by the High Court in January last year, and a fresh inquest ordered. Yesterday, Mr Justice Burnett upheld a judicial review challenge – brought by Adam’s mother, Carol Pounder, of Greenock Close, Burnley – to Mr Tweddles refusal to recuse himself from the second inquest.

The High Court heard last year that Adam died hours after he was restrained by four adult guards and was subjected to the “nose distraction technique”, in which pressure is applied to the nose with the deliberate intention of causing pain.

The issues for the inquest jury to decide at the fresh inquest will include whether Adam had been subjected to “unlawful treatment” and, if so, whether that “contributed” to his decision to take his own life.

The youngster was being held at Hassockfield – more than 100 miles and three hours drive from his home – on remand on charges of wounding with a knife and burglary and had a history of absconding from less secure units.


  1. BBC News - Unlawful force contributed to death of boy, 14, in cell
    27 Jan 2011 - Adam Rickwood, from Burnley in Lancashire, was found hanged in his cell at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham in August ...

  2. Adam Rickwood, 14, unlawfully hit by guard hours before suicide ...

    11 Jan 2011 - Adam Rickwood was found hanged in his cell by staff at Hassockfield secure training centre in 2007 after being struck with a 'nose distraction' ...
  3. 'At least I will be with Nana and Grandad' - Telegraph › NewsFeatures
    1 Jun 2007 - Iain Hollingshead uncovers the short, sad life of Adam Rickwood, Britain's youngest ever suicide in custody - and asks who was to blame.
  4. Second Inquest into the Death of Adam Rickwood begins - NFPS

    A second inquest into the death of Adam Rickwood, the youngest person to die in custody, begins today (10th January 2011) after a High Court battle. Adam was ...
  5. Adam Rickwood - From Lancashire Telegraph

    A POIGNANT protest will take place outside Burnley Magistrates' Court in memory of tragic teenager Adam Rickwood - on what would have been his 18th ...
  6. Adam Rickwood & The Medomsley Heroes FULL DOCUMENTARY ...

    29 Apr 2011 - Uploaded by pnmfilms
    ADAM RICKWOOD & THE MEDOMSLEY HEROES This group of men 'The Medomsley Heroes', primarily ...
  7. recommendations from Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood inquests

    Response to coroners' recommendations from Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood inquests. Share this. Date: 26 October 2010. An updated version of the action ...
  8. Unlawful force contributed to Adam Rickwood's death, inquest finds ...

    27 Jan 2011 - The jury in the second inquest into the death of young offender Adam Rickwood has ruled that an unlawful use of force by professionals ...
  9. Adam Rickwood: neglected in custody, dead at 14 - mirror ...

    Adam Rickwood did not have an easy life, but that did not divert him from his burning ambition to become a police officer.


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