Goodenough & anr –v The Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police

Tuesday 13th July

The Claimants appeal paragraph 1 of Turner J’s order dated 17 June 2020 dismissing their claim in battery following his liability judgment dated 26 March 2020 and consequential ancillary judgment dated 8 June 2020.

His order allowed their claim for breach of rights under Article 2 ECHR in respect to the Defendant’s investigatory duty and declared the Defendant had breached that duty. He ordered the Defendant to pay each Claimant 5000 pounds in respect of that breach. He also ordered the Defendant pay the Second Claimant 10,0000 pounds in respect of her claim for false imprisonment and related claims (settled before the trial).

The claim arises out of the death of Robin Goodenough in police custody on 27 September 2003.The Claimants are the mother and sister respectively of the deceased. At the liability trial the claim relied on 2 causes of action (i) the tort of battery (ii) breach of rights under Article 2 ECHR arising from alleged flaws in the investigation following Mr Goodenough’s death.  After a short chase of the vehicle Mr Goodenough was driving (with 2 passengers including his sister) it was stopped. Mr Goodenough left the car running and refused to get out of the car. He was punched twice in the head by an officer and pulled out of the vehicle causing him to hit the road fracturing his jaw, loosening teeth and causing facial abrasions. He was arrested and an ambulance called . He was found to be in a state of cardiac arrest and died before reaching hospital. The cause of death was atrial fibrillation caused by the stress of events.

In 2003 3 police officers were charged with manslaughter and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. One was acquitted but no verdicts were reached in respect of the other officers. A retrial took place in 2006 when both were acquitted of charges limited to assault occasioning ABH..

The Defendant accepted after evidence was given in the civil proceedings, that the punches and extraction were legally causative of Mr Goodenough’s death. The Defendant relied on a defence of self defence.

Turner J concluded it was lawful for the officers to use force against Mr Goodenough in the aftermath of the chase and that the force used was reasonable. He did not conclude Mr Goodenough was reaching for a weapon. He found what occurred after the event amounted to conferring but not to collusion arising from an improper motive on the part of those involved.

View hearing:

Part 1

Part 2