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Sheku Bayoh family heartbroken that inquiry could go on for four years

Solicitor Aamer Anwar (centre) arrives at the Crown Office in Edinburgh, with family members of the late Sheku Bayoh in November 2019.
Solicitor Aamer Anwar (centre) arrives at the Crown Office in Edinburgh, with family members of the late Sheku Bayoh in November 2019.

The family of a man who died in police custody face a decade without answers after it was revealed a public inquiry into his death is expected to last up to four years.

Sheku Bayoh died after being restrained by up to nine police officers in May 2015, but the Crown Office only decided last year that no one would be prosecuted.

A public inquiry was subsequently announced into the circumstances of the death and whether race played a part.

Announcing the inquiry, Justice Minister Humza Yousaf said: “It is imperative that the circumstances leading up to Mr Bayoh’s death, and the events that followed, are examined in full and in public.”

However, a job advert relating to the inquiry, not expected to start for several months, has revealed officials expect it to take up to four years to conclude.

A Scottish Government advert for a media manager to handle the hearing’s press inquiries, with a salary of up to £46,599, says the inquiry “will be based in central Edinburgh and is expected to last around three to four years”.

The inquiry’s terms of reference stated it would “examine the circumstances leading up to the death of Mr Bayoh, the post-incident management process and subsequent investigation”.

It will also look into whether Mr Bayoh’s “actual or perceived race played a part in events”.

Sheku’s sister Kadi, 42, a nurse, in Edinburgh, said the predicted length of the inquiry had dismayed his family.

“We are heartbroken,” she said.

“We have already waited five years and now it might be many more years. How long do we have to suffer? Why do we have to wait this long for answers? We have suffered enough. We are dismayed it might take three or four years.

“We have long given up hope that any of the police involved will be held accountable.

“We just want to know why Sheku ended up dying in such a brutal way.”

The family’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar, said: “It is a disgrace that any family should have to wait so long. Any delay in justice is a denial of justice. The public inquiry has the full support of Sheku Bayoh’s family and his partner Collette, who have never given up campaigning for the truth.”

Mr Bayoh died after being restrained by police responding to reports of a man carrying a knife in the street near his Kirkcaldy home five years ago.

No knife was found on Mr Bayoh.

One was discovered nearby later by police. He died covered in more than 20 injuries.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Bayoh had taken the drugs MDMA and flakka. The cause of death was recorded as sudden death of a man intoxicated by these drugs “while being restrained”.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone visited Mr Bayoh’s family in December to express his personal condolences and stated Police Scotland would participate fully in the inquiry.

The pace of decision-making at the Crown Office has been criticised as prosecutors have taken many years to progress high-profile investigations.

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