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Vulnerable man ‘unlawfully killed’
Thursday 08 December 2011
Coroner criticises police response to harassment of David Askew
A man with a learning disability who died after years of harassment by local youths was unlawfully killed, a coroner ruled yesterday.
David Askew, 64, collapsed and died in the garden of his home in Hattersley in March 2010.
He and his family had suffered harassment and anti-social behaviour over a number of years. Between January 2004 and March 2010, there were 88 reported incidents involving the family.
No one has ever been prosecuted over his death, but a pathologist told the inquest that a confrontation with youths ten minutes before he collapsed had been a factor.
Coroner John Pollard criticised the “staggering degree of inertia and complacency” shown by police, the council and housing associations in dealing with the anti-social behaviour towards Mr Askew.
Earlier this year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission also identified ‘systemic failures' in the way Greater Manchester Police dealt with the abuse experienced by the family.
David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy, said: “Too often we find that abuse and harassment against people with a learning disability is not taken seriously. Without proper support from police services many people with a learning disability have been left to live in fear.
“We hope that this tragic case will be a wake up call to all police forces and we urge them to sign our 'Stand by me' police promise of ten ways they can ensure victims of disability hate crime receive appropriate support and justice.
“Twenty-five police forces have already signed up, including Greater Manchester Police, and we hope that this represents a new commitment by police to work with people with a learning disability to recognise the serious effect hate crime has on their lives.”
Find out more about Mencap 'Stand by me' campaign