Death of David Oluwale 50 years on and court case which still haunts city

Nigerian born David Oluwale, who was found dead in 1969
Nigerian born David Oluwale, who was found dead in 1969
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Dateline: April 1971: As part of our regular 'retro' features, we look at one of the darkest chapters in the history of Leeds policing.

The date was April 1971 and a senior Leeds police officer appeared before Leeds magistrates charged with assaulting Nigerian-born David Oluwale, pictured, who was found dead in the River Aire in May 1969.

The graveside of David Oluwale in Killingbeck Cemetary during an event of remembrance marking 50 years since his death. Picture Tony Johnson.

The graveside of David Oluwale in Killingbeck Cemetary during an event of remembrance marking 50 years since his death. Picture Tony Johnson.

The story perhaps has added significance because it is, at the time of publication, 50 years since Oluwale's death.

So what happened in April 1971?
Sgt Kenneth Kitching’s solicitor said he would answer summons to appear on May 3.
The summons alleged that Kitching and another officer unlawfully killed Oluwale on April 18, 1969. Kitching’s solicitor said his client denied the charges against him.

The background
David Oluwale was an immigrant to Britain – his death was the first officially recorded incident of police racism.
Two officers were charged in connection with his death, the other being Inspector Geoffrey Ellerker.

The trial

During the trial, the judge ordered manslaughter charges be dropped but Ellerker was convicted of three assaults, Kitching two. Both served time in jail.

The aftermath
The Oluwale case returned to the public eye some 30 years later after author Kester Aspden wrote Nationality: Wog, The Hounding of David Oluwale, (2007), which was adapted and made into a critically acclaimed stage play which was performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in February 2009.