Bloomberg News

Olympic Security Firm G4S Not Charged Over 2010 Flight Death

July 17, 2012

G4S Plc (GFS), the U.K. security company hired to protect the Olympic Games, won’t be charged over the death of a man restrained by three of its guards at London’s Heathrow airport on an Angola-bound aircraft in 2010.

There isn’t enough evidence for a trial because medical experts gave several potential causes for the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who was being deported from the U.K., and there’s no proof a “sufficiently senior person” at G4S failed to act, the Crown Prosecution Service said. Still, the probe found “shortcomings in the training given to the security guards.”

“I cannot bring a prosecution unless there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction,” Gaon Hart, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service’s special crime unit, said in a statement today.

The decision comes as Crawley, England-based G4S faces a separate scandal over its failure to supply enough security guards for the London Olympics, which start on July 27. The company’s market value has dropped about 600 million pounds ($938 million) in four days.

The three guards were arrested about a week after Mubenga’s death on Oct. 12, 2010, and no longer work for G4S. Prosecutors didn’t receive a full file of evidence from police until January, the CPS said.

“The care and welfare of those in our custody has always been our top priority and we are pleased that the CPS has concluded there is no basis on which to bring charges against either G4S or its former staff,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement.

Cardiorespiratory Collapse

While the technical cause of Mubenga’s death was deemed to be cardiorespiratory collapse when he was being restrained, it isn’t clear if the condition was brought on by the physical contact or some other combination of elements, prosecutors said.

“There is insufficient evidence that the restraining methods used by the security guards were, in themselves, illegal,” Hart said. “No witness had an unrestricted or uninterrupted view of what happened, and there is no overall clear picture of what happened in that key window of time.”

Prosecutors were advised they would need to prove Mubenga was held in a “severely splinted position” with his head on or below his knees, restricting his diaphragm, and that the position was “more than a minimal cause of Mr. Mubenga’s death,” CPS said.

‘Positional Asphyxia’

G4S’s training was flawed because guards weren’t’ properly shown how “positional asphyxia” might occur or how to identify the warning signs, CPS said. The company also failed to train workers on how to perform such restraint on an aircraft.

The medical experts said Mubenga was in an “agitated state” during the incident and that they couldn’t rule out his death may have been caused by “adrenalin, muscle exhaustion or isometric exercise,” the prosecutors said.

G4S followed training recommended by the U.K. Border Agency and the National Offenders Management Service, the CPS said. Hart said the CPS would notify both agencies about the findings from the investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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