Father of police officer ‘blames the force for his death’, inquest told

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A police officer was found hanged hours after being arrested over an allegation of having indecent images on his computer - an inquest was told.

The body of PC Kevin Ellis, of Whitwood, Castleford, was found suspended from a tree in April 2013,

The 33-year-old had been taken into custody over an allegation involving indecent images on a computer.

After being bailed pending further inquiries, he said he would go to his parents’ home and was given a lift by a fellow officer but got out of the car before reaching the address saying he wanted to walk the rest of the way to clear his head.

He never made it to his parents’ home, and his body was found the next day by a member of the public in the grounds of Rodillian Academy at Lofthouse - a school he attended as a youngster.

But while giving evidence, his father Peter Ellis, a retired police officer himself, accused West Yorkshire Police of failing his son.

Mr Ellis snr told the jury at Wakefield Coroners’ Court that he and his wife had no idea that their son had even been arrested, let alone bailed to stay at their house.

The first they knew about it was when a call was made by a welfare officer to their home to check on Kevin hours after he was bailed.

Mr Ellis snr said Kevin would have been aware of the implications of such serious allegations and that he should have been identified as at high risk of self harm.

He told the inquest that he would not have condoned any wrongdoing by his son, but should have at least been given the chance to speak with him.

In a letter to the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police just days after his death, Mr Ellis pointed the finger of blame at the officers involved.

He said the police “bear a grave responsibility” for Kevin’s death, adding: “They had a duty of care but they not only failed him, but his family and friends.

“Had I known of Kevin’s arrest and that he was being bailed, I would have certainly collected him from the police when he was released or at least met the officer who was bringing him to my home.

“The opportunity for us to affect or influence his decision to take his own life was not afforded to us.

“We may have been able to convince him that he did have a future.

“They [the police] handled the investigation poorly and danger signs were missed.”

Giving evidence, West Yorkshire Police’s Chief Superintendent Dickie Whitehead then conceded that not enough had been done to safeguard Kevin.

He had been tasked with conducting a thorough review into the case following the complaint by Mr Ellis, and had produced a 77-page report outlining his findings and recommendations.

When asked by coroner, David Hinchliff, if the suitability of the bail address had been checked out, he replied: “I would have expected it to take place but it did not happen.”

He said that because Kevin was a police officer and that his father was a retired officer, the correct procedures may not have been followed to perhaps preserve Kevin and his family’s dignity.

But Chief Supt Whitehead said Kevin had not been regarded as being at risk and that he repeatedly said he would not be “doing anything stupid” before being bailed.

Born in Wakefield, PC Ellis was a divorced father-of-two, but had been living with a new partner.

Police had moved in to arrest him after an online conversation had been flagged up in which an indecent video was shared, and one of the addresses was traced to Kevin’s home.

Chief Supt Whitehead said other images ‘of concern’ had also been found on electronic equipment seized.

The hearing continues.

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