Man arrested for ‘stealing’ Greggs sausage roll killed himself after police wrongly named him as paedophile

·3-min read
Brian Temple, 34, died on 31 December, 2017  (Supplied)
Brian Temple, 34, died on 31 December, 2017 (Supplied)

A man accused of stealing a sausage roll from Greggs hanged himself after police wrongly stated he was an alleged child sex offender.

Brian Temple, 34, was physically assaulted and abused in the street after he was released from custody following his arrest by Cleveland Police in June 2017.

He hanged himself while under the influence of drugs and alcohol on 31 December that year, a two-day inquest at Teeside Coroner’s Court heard. But coroner Claire Bailey concluded she could not be certain he had intended to kill himself.

Temple had been arrested on 8 June on suspicion of stealing the pastry theft from Greggs. But upon release from police custody he was given incorrect release papers stating he had been accused of engaging in sexual activity with a child aged between 13 and 15.

The court heard the police detention officer on shift at the time pressed the enter key to input the incorrect offence on the document and did not check them before printing.

After arriving home from custody, Temple gave his release papers to his then girlfriend not releasing they contained the error. His partner then told people of the false information, which led to him being confronted. He was reportedly verbally abused in the street, attacked in his own home and hit around the head by a golf club.

Alison Coaker, a police community support officer (PCSO) who grew up in Redcar alongside Temple’s family and had known him since he was eight, described him as “mischievous” and a “cheeky chap”. She said she would often encounter him on Redcar's high street, where he would socialise with friends and sometimes allegedly steal from supermarkets to fund his alcohol addiction.

The PSCO told the inquest Temple never mentioned the incorrect charge papers or the rumours circulating in the community that he was a paedophile. She described him as “quite nice” when he was sober and said she was shocked to learn of his death when she found out in early 2018.

Holly Williams, a constable with Cleveland Police who visited Temple's property in the weeks leading up to his death for a safeguarding check, told the court he had not wanted officers present at his home as he believed it would make the rumours appear more credible.

Michael Stokes, a civilian investigator for the force, said he had personally apologised to Temple's family and passed on his condolences.

He said that on 1 December 2017, he received the complaint from Temple about the mistakes on the charge sheet and then visited him and his family with Detective Constable Hunt to speak to him in person.

Temple was planning to proceed with police complaint and wanted steps taken to ensure the mistake would not happen to someone else. After his death, the Independent Office for Police Conduct launched an investigation into Cleveland Police and the circumstances around the error on the release papers.

The court heard the detention officer, employed by an external company, has since received management advice and changes have been implemented to the IT system to ensure the mistake cannot happen again, the court heard.

Two Cleveland police officers who gave evidence to the inquest said changes to the custody system meant a similar mistake was extremely unlikely to happen again.

Ms Bailey said the changes meant a “preventing future deaths report” would not be required for the force.

The coroner ruled Temple’s death could not be proven as a suicide due to the drugs in his system potentially having an effect on his mindset. Her conclusion stated instead that he was "hanged under influence of alcohol and drugs".

After the inquest, a police spokesperson said: "Cleveland Police offer our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr Temple at this incredibly difficult time. Following the tragic death of Mr Temple Cleveland Police have implemented changes to the information people are given on release from custody and we have been fully engaged in the inquest process."

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