Man assaulted by police during G20 died from internal bleeding, not heart-attack

Ian Tomlinson, the man shortly after an unprovoked attack by a police officer during London's G20 demonstration, did not die of a heart-attack, as was previously thought. A new postmortem shows that Tomlinson died of abdominal bleeding after the attack by the police-officer. Tomlinson was not a demonstrator -- he was a passer-by on the way home.
The Coroner's statement said the second post-mortem's conclusions were provisional.

In its statement, the Coroner's Court said that the inquest had looked at the first post-mortem carried out after Mr Tomlinson collapsed and died on the evening of 1 April.

That examination, carried out by Dr Freddy Patel, concluded that Mr Tomlinson had diseased heart and liver and a substantial amount of blood in the abdominal cavity.

"His provisional interpretation of his findings was that the cause of death was coronary artery disease," said the statement.

"A subsequent post-mortem examination was conducted by another consultant forensic pathologist, Dr Nat Cary, instructed by the IPCC and by solicitors acting for the family of the late Mr Tomlinson.

G20 death was not heart attack


  1. I believe that would make the charge Murder, instead of manslaughter…

    The police will be exonerated, of course.

  2. As interesting and important a development as this is, this is an important line in the article:

    “The statement concluded that both the opinions remained provisional and subject to further investigations and tests.”

    What you have is two qualified forensic pathologists conducting post-mortem examinations that have come to two differing conclusions. Sounds like we need a third opinion.

  3. Rotwang @1,

    No. Under English law, a murder charge requires a specific intent to kill or cause really serious injury, and for that intent to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. If Mr Tomlinson had been repeatedly whacked over the head with a baton, this might have been possible, but on the facts as currently understood (he was hit with a baton, then shoved to the ground a few minutes later) proving intent to cause grievous bodily harm would be very hard.

    Unlawful Act Manslaughter requires only a specific intent to do an unlawful act, which then caused death. It seems very clear that Mr Tomlinson was assaulted, as the police used unreasonable force on him. If that unlawful assault caused his death, then UA Manslaughter is made out. Even if it turns out that Mr Tomlinson was especially vulnerable because of some medical condition, the legal principle that ‘you take your victim as you find him’ (the ‘eggshell skull rule’) means that this is no defence to the charge.

    (English law also provides for Gross Negligence Manslaughter, when you kill someone through foreseeable recklessness, as well as Manslaughter via Diminished Responsibility or Provocation as an alternative charge to Murder.)

    The main difference between Murder and Manslaughter in practical terms is that Murder carries a mandatory automatic life sentence (i.e. imprisonment for a defined term, typically 12 years, followed by release on conditional licence for life) whilst Manslaughter can be punished by any sentence available to the court.

    (Yes, I sat another Criminal Procedure bar exam yesterday. Does it show?)

  4. @ #4:

    Comments like yours are why I love the internet. Access to professional knowledge like that is invaluable.


  5. Police: “See, we told you we didn’t cause this man to die from a heart attack. Vindicated!”

  6. Well this I should say makes it harder for the defense… it’s much easier to create doubt that cross- checking someone caused a heart attack later on (a heart attack right away maybe…) but now internal bleeding, that is different.

    But when two opinions vary, you don’t just go with the one you like best, you get a third opinion.

  7. The pathologist who carried out the “heart attack” autopsy, was reprimanded by the General Medical Council over some of his previous work. From The Guardian (

    “Dr Freddy Patel concluded Tomlinson had died of a heart attack. He has previously been reprimanded by the GMC, after he released medical details about a man who died controversially in police custody.

    In a second case, which raised questions about Dr Patel’s findings, police dropped a criminal investigation after the pathologist gave it as his opinion that the victim, a woman, had died of natural causes. A man who lived in the flat where the body was found went on to murder two other women and mutilate their bodies.”

  8. Well if this guy was gonna die from coronary heart disease anyway, the cops should be allowed to do whatever they want to him. Obviously you can’t expect the law to apply to sick people the same way it does healthy people.

  9. I hoped this would finally come out. One of the videos taken at the scene shows him simply collapsing without warning, a typical scenario for internal bleeding. If he had suffered a heart attack, he would have exhibited some signs before collapsing.

    #3, how is unprovokingly attacking an unarmed man, and then beating him while he’s down not “intent to cause grievous bodily harm”? videos have established a lack of reason, and clear excessive force. What other reason could you have to hit him while he was down?

  10. The police will be exonerated, of course.

    Johannes Mehserle has been charged with murder.

    these yahoos were all convicted

    I know some people find it fun to bad mouth the system as incompetent and rewarding the bad guys, but I kind of prefer the truth

  11. Anonymous @11,

    It’s the definition in English law.

    ‘Grievous Bodily Harm’ (GBH) means, pretty much, what it says: inflicting really severe injury on somebody. We’re talking broken bones and stab wounds.

    In terms of non-fatal assaults, there’s a ladder of increasing severity:

    Common-law assault: any unlawful use or immediate threat of use of force against someone. Technically you don’t even need to actually touch someone to commit just assault, but if you do then it’s assault and battery. A slap in a bar fight is assault.

    Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm: Use of force causing minor injury to someone. Bruising, broken nose, tooth knocked out, minor concussion etc would usually be charged as AOABH.

    Wounding Or Inflicting GBH (aka ‘Section 20 GBH’): As defined above for GBH, but inflicted recklessly. Slapping someone so they fall over and crack their skull would be Section 20 GBH.

    Inflicting GBH With Intent (aka ‘Section 18 GBH’): Again, as above, but where there was prior intent to cause really serious injury.

    It’s common to charge s.18 and s.20 GBH in the alternative, with the jury getting to decide whether the accused deliberately inflicted GBH or did so recklessly.

    Now, if the victim dies then for it to count as Murder the assailant has to have either (a) meant to kill the victim or (b) met the s.18 GBH test of having provable intent to cause really serious injury. Otherwise it’s Manslaughter.

    So, to get around to answering your point, what the police were seen doing to Tomlinson was nasty but a prosecutor would be very hard-pushed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the police were deliberately trying to inflict really serious injury on him. A far more credible case is that they recklessly used force to cause serious injury leading to his death, which leads to a charge of Manslaughter. That’s still a homicide offence, albeit one not carrying an automatic life sentence.

  12. wouldn’t it save all concerned a great deal of trouble to point out Mr. Tomlinson was neither wealthy nor related to anyone upper-class and just close this whole matter? Why go through the expense and time of a trial?

  13. Boba Fett, I pointed to a couple of examples where cops were charged and/or convicted of crimes for abusing their power. The point being that the assumption that crooked cops will be exonerated, “of course”, isn’t accurate.

    Some are convicted.

    Since folks often seem to suffer confusion with the concept of “some” versus “all” versus “none”, especially when it involves their favorite whipping boy, I present the following.

    And again, I know people tend to allow themselves the indulgence of a Hasty Generalization when their arch enemy is involved, but, it is an indulgence.

  14. I was planning on chunneling over to London for a few days this summer (my son is getting married in La Croix St. Ouen on July 4th and we’ll have some time to kill afterwards). I think the wife and I will be going to Belgium instead. Britain sounds too scary.

  15. “I think the wife and I will be going to Belgium instead. Britain sounds too scary.”

    Nowhere in the world is LESS scary than Belgium.

  16. There’s a Christmas tree somewhere in London with a bunch of presents underneath it that’ll never be opened. And I thought, if I survive all of this, I’d go to that house, apologize to the mother there, and accept whatever punishment she chose for me. Prison… death… didn’t matter. Because at least in prison and at least in death, you know, I wouldn’t be in fuckin’ Bruges. But then, like a flash, it came to me. And I realized, fuck man, maybe that’s what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in fuckin’ Bruges. And I really really hoped I wouldn’t die. I really really hoped I wouldn’t die.

  17. Why does everyone hate Belgium so much? WHY?!

    (Note: I am not Belgian, but it seems kinda interesting to me, yet most Europeans seem to hate it, and no one ever says WHY)

  18. “I think the wife and I will be going to Belgium instead. Britain sounds too scary.”

    Aaand – this is the reason I sometimes hate the internet. Stupid comments like this. Out of interest, do the Belgium police carry guns?

    I thank (insert deity/cause) that I live in a country where isolated cases of police brutality make the headlines for days because they are a) isolated and b), erm, isolated. There are many countries in the world where this violence is widespread and ignored. Britain is not one of them.

    Are there ongoing issues in the UK with privacy and increasing intervention from the state? Yes. Are there daily issues with the police like this? No. Is Britain less safe now than it was 10 years ago – broadly no. Are the police more or less brutal now than they were in the 80’s during the miners’ strikes – LESS.

    It’s my experience that in every country the police services attract a minority of violent bigots – I suspect they exist in every walk of life, but most professions do not get issued batons. Most British beat police are community based and fair. I would of course exclude the scumbags who patrol the roads – they’re proper little shites.


  19. “Why does everyone hate Belgium so much? WHY?!”


    As someone who doesn’t hate Belgium (never been, but it produced waffles, good beer and Tintin, so how could I hate it?), this is a bit difficult to answer.

    I don’t think people hate Belgium, as such. The main joke amongst Europeans about Belgium is that it’s an incredibly DULL place, and while I’m sure Belgium has its highlights, I don’t think that assessment is completely unfair – people I know who have lived in Belgium said it certainly wasn’t very exciting (though how it compares to most of Middle England or the Podunks of the US, I don’t know).

    Now, I would add that there are people, at least in the UK, who see Belgium as the seat of Euro-centric politics; as the seat of the EU (which it is), and seeing as the UK has a pretty hefty contingent of anti-Europe folk and “Euro-skeptics”, I guess Belgium draws a certain amount of ire from them.

    Ultimately, though, jokes about Belgium by other Europeans are like jokes about Canada by people in the US. Largely harmless, affectionate and silly.

  20. Thank you 13STRONG,

    That was informative and extra-relevant! I am an English-speaking Canadian of Dutch descent with an abiding affection for (most) Quebecois culture, so I now understand completely!

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