Guard on trial over death of man on plane

Terence Hughes
Terence Hughes
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton and District Commander Superintendent Maggie Blyth. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A PORTSMOUTH man is one of three security guards accused of killing an Angolan deportee as they restrained him on a flight from the UK, a court heard.

Terrence Hughes, 53, of Portsmouth, Colin Kaler, 52, of Kempton and Stuart Tribelnig, 39, of Surrey, are on trial charged with the manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga.

The 46-year-old was heard by passengers to cry out repeatedly ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was pinned down in his seat by the guards.

They ignored his desperate pleas and ‘disregarded their duty of care’, by assuming that the married father was ‘feigning’ illness as the flight prepared to take off from Heathrow airport, jurors were told. The three deny the charge against them.

In an unprecedented move, a section of the Boeing 777 with three rows of seats has been specially-constructed inside Court 16 of the Old Bailey to demonstrate to the jury how Mr Mubenga died.

Opening the case, prosecutor Mark Dennis QC told the court that Mr Mubenga had been accompanied by the three guards as he was put on a plane at Heathrow airport to be deported to Angola. 
 At 8.20pm, the flight crew on the British Airways plane contacted the control tower saying they had a ‘medical emergency’.

Their message said: ‘Yeah, we have a deportee who’s restrained, he’s collapsed.’

An hour earlier, as he boarded the plane, Mr Mubenga, who left his family and children in the UK, had been ‘fit and healthy’.

Mr Dennis said: ‘A few minutes after boarding, everything was to change.

As Mubenga was returning from the lavatory something happened which set off a chain of events which ultimately led to his collapse and death.

‘Mubenga and the three officers became embroiled in a commotion which escalated into a physical struggle as the officers tried to force Mubenga into a row of seats.

‘He was then further restrained by the application of rigid handcuffs with his arms, hands bound in that way behind his back.

‘Such physical restraint should have been enough to hold Mubenga in the seat and above all to make Mubenga realise that there was not point in struggling further even if he had wanted to do so.’

The court was told that all three detainee custody officers had been given training on the risks and implications of positional restraint or restraint asphyxia.