x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Open verdict on death of Briton who died in Dubai jail

A British court found insufficient evidence to prove either an unlawful or natural cause of death in the case of a British man killed while in police custody in 2011.

Lee Bradley Brown was found dead in his cell on April 12 2011, having been arrested in the Burj Al Arab on April 8. Stephen Lock for The National
Lee Bradley Brown was found dead in his cell on April 12 2011, having been arrested in the Burj Al Arab on April 8. Stephen Lock for The National

An inquest in London has recorded an open verdict into the death of Lee Bradley Brown, a British man who died in police custody in 2011.

Brown was found dead in his cell in Bur Dubai jail on April 12, 2011, after he was arrested in Burj Al Arab hotel on April 6. His family and friends had been told by fellow inmates, using a smuggled phone, that he had been badly beaten by police, and the family contends that his death was as a result of beating.

Dubai Police have denied that Brown was beaten to death, saying that he suffered minor injuries while resisting arrest, and a post-mortem examination held in the week after his death concluded that he had died from choking on his own vomit.

The British post-mortem, performed over a week later, found no evidence that Brown had vomit in his airways, but the pathologist, Dr Benjamin Swift, also discounted violent trauma as a possible cause of death, describing the bruising as “light”.

In the British legal system, an open verdict is recorded when there is insufficient evidence to prove either unlawful or a natural cause of death.

Suggestions that Brown’s cannabis use had been related to his death were dismissed by the coroner and the pathologist, and he had minimal levels of alcohol in his system.

The inquest at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court in East London was attended by Brown’s mother, Doris Shafi, 70, his brother, Steven, 39, and his sister-in-law Su Brown, 42.

The barrister John Lofthouse cited emerging evidence that he said did not “chime” with the statement provided by the Chief Prosecutor of Dubai, Sami Al Shamsi, and the medical reports provided by Dubai pathologists.

Mr Lofthouse also questioned the validity of the evidence provided by Dubai, noting that the requests for existing CCTV footage had been ignored, and highlighting inconsistencies in reports of the discovery of Brown’s body and apparent attempts to resuscitate him several hours after his death.

The coroner, Chinyere Inyama, acknowledged the distressing and unresolved circumstances of Brown’s death but said that the post-mortem results showed that the barrister’s submissions bore no relevance to the inquest’s role, which is purely to determine the cause of death.

After the inquest, Brown’s mother Doris said the verdict was “disappointing” but “what we were told to expect”.

She was not able to confirm that she would continue her legal fight, but said: “I wouldn’t want it to drop now. I don’t feel like I’ve got any justice.”

Steve Brown called on Dubai to release the CCTV footage that he saw as a key to the mystery of Brown’s final days.

“I would have thought they’d give us the CCTV just because of the relationship we have with the UAE,” he said. “You’d think someone would be wanting to solve it, to put something in place so it doesn’t happen again.”

They described Brown as a gentle man with a love of travel.

“He’d been to Thailand, Indonesia,” Brown’s sister-in-law, Su Brown, said. “He was very respectful as well. He liked the Muslim culture; that’s why he didn’t drink.”