to Angola by three G4S security guards
Three G4S security guards deny manslaughter of Angolan deportee who passengers heard cry out “you’re killing me”
On 12 October 2010 on a British Airways flight which was preparing to leave Heathrow for Angola a man was heard shouting “you’re killing me, please help” and 'I can't breathe’ by other passengers on the plane. It was the sound of Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga being killed by three G4S security guards who are currently undergoing trial for manslaughter.
Mr Mubenga, 46, had been living in the UK for several years with his wife Adrienne Makenda Kambana and their children, the youngest of whom was less than a year old at the time.
Mubenga with his wife Adrienne Makenda Kambana
The three G4S security guards charged with killing Mr Mubenga are Colin Kaler, 51, from Bedfordshire, Terrence Hughes, 53, from Hampshire, and Stuart Tribelnig, 38, from Surrey. All three deny the manslaughter of Mr Mubenga.
This week at the Old Bailey the jury were told how the G4S guards ignored Mr Mubenga’s desperate cries for help and “disregarded their duty of care” in disregarding his claims that he felt unwell as fake.
The trial involved a part of the Boeing 777 aircraft where the death occurred being specially constructed inside Court 16 of the Old Bailey to clearly demonstrate to jurors how Mr Mubenga died.
Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC told the court how Mr Mubenga’s death on board the plane was apparently unjustifiable since, "As the man boarded the plane, accompanied by the three Group 4 Securicor (G4S) guards, Mr Mubenga, who left his family and children in the UK, had been "fit and healthy" and "thoroughly co-operative.”
Dennis described how a few minutes after boarding the plane, Mr Mubenga was returning from the toilet accompanied by the three officers when the officers tried to force him to sit down and all four became "embroiled in a commotion which quickly escalated into a physical struggle."
The defendants said they feared that Mr Mubenga was going to try and escape.
The court was told how Mr Mubenga was then further restrained, with his hands handcuffed behind his back and his seat belt fastened around his waist whilst an officer sat on either side of him and one in the seat in front. “Such restraint should have been enough to hold Mubenga in the seat. The officers could have simply stepped back and tried to calm the situation by words,” prosecutor Mark Dennis QC told the court. However, the guards reportedly pinned Mubenga into his seat, one leaning over from the seat ahead to do so. “In doing so, they held Mubenga in such a position bent forward that his ability to breathe properly was inevitable impaired," Mr Dennis said.
The prosecution accused the G4S guards with misconduct and negligence, arguing that, "Each officer would have known from their training and from common sense that keeping someone in such a position was likely to cause a person harm yet they did so over a prolonged period and did so ignoring shouts from Mubenga that he was in trouble - 'I can't breathe' shouts that were heard by many a passenger seated further away. […] His shouts that he was unable to breathe were disregarded." Mr Dennis added that, “By virtue of their training all three defendants would have been fully aware of the risk of positional asphyxia occurring during control and restraint actions with a detained person.”
Other passengers on the flight reported hearing Mr Mubenga’s cries that he was dying and needed to be released. Mr Mubenga’s desperate pleas of, "Please let me go, I want to see my family... you're killing me” and “Please help" were heard elsewhere on the plane the court heard.
When it became apparent that Mr Mubenga was physically unwell, sitting absolutely still and "simply staring open-eyed ahead of him", the guards acted irresponsibly by assuming that the husband and father was faking his condition.
The violent ordeal lasted an agonising 35 minutes for Mr Mubenga, who suffered a heart attack as the officers restrained him.
Help came too late for Mr Mubenga who “had almost certainly already suffered a cardiac arrest and was, in all likelihood, beyond recovery as sadly proved to be the case," by the time that the control tower were eventually alerted and paramedics arrived, the court heard.
The defendants told the court that Mr Mubenga put himself into the squashed, forward position – not them – and that he resisted their attempts to make him sit upright.
The three G4S guards facing manslaughter charges.
From left, Colin Kaler, Terence Hughes and Stuart Tribelnig.
“Such restraint should have been enough to hold Mubenga in the seat. The officers could have simply stepped back and tried to calm the situation by words,” said Mr Dennis.
The trial continues.