Answers still needed over custody death

A YEAR after the death of a man in police custody, his family today still have no answers over how and why he died.Today on what would have been his birthday, Ian Snelling's daughter Michelle spoke of the nightmare 12 months they had endured - and the pain of not just the anniversary of his death, but the harrowing ordeal of every day without the father she loved.

By Richard Cornwell

A YEAR after the death of a man in police custody, his family today still have no answers over how and why he died.

Today on what would have been his birthday, Ian Snelling's daughter Michelle spoke of the nightmare 12 months they had endured - and the pain of not just the anniversary of his death, but the harrowing ordeal of every day without the father she loved.

Mr Snelling, 51, of Manwick Road, Felixstowe, collapsed and died in a cell at the town's police station on September 1 last year.

Two hours earlier he had been arrested at the VK1 off licence in Undercliff Road West on suspicion of theft.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating his death.

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Miss Snelling said although her dad - described as a devoted father who was passionate about music and art - had had mental health problems, he was acting out of character when he was arrested.

She said: “The past year has been a nightmare and I cannot believe that we still do not know what happened to my dad.

“I just cannot move on - every day I am thinking about him and what happened and there are reminders of his last day everywhere.

“All my memories are just bad memories now and the good memories have been blocked out.

“All I can think about is the last time I saw him lying there in the morgue.

“I have done so much crying. I love him and miss him so much.

“I know in my heart that the happy memories will come back one day, but I just need to know what happened because there is such a gap. I feel like I am in limbo.”

Miss Snelling, 20, of Victoria Street, Felixstowe, said it as well as the results of the investigation, there would still be an inquest to come.

Last year on his birthday they had gone for a meal together at the Brook Hotel.

She said: “I saw my dad almost every day - we were very close and he was my rock. I know he had problems and he was often up and down, but he had been positive and were going to decorate his flat together. It was such a shock when I was told he was dead.”

She had waited months to get back his possessions from his flat from the police.

Among these had been some writings - in the last he wrote, “I will always love you, Michelle”, a note she now treasures.

The IPCC has refused to comment on the case as the investigation is ongoing, but Miss Snelling said she now understood the report had been completed and had been sent to the police.

n. Do you think the investigation has taken too long? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: IPCC investigation

The IPCC says investigations into deaths in police custody usually take six months to a year.

At the end of the inquiry, a report will be produced which will be discussed with senior officers of the Suffolk force, police officers at Felixstowe, and Mr Snelling's family.

The report will not be released to the public, though a statement giving a summary of its findings will be issued.

In some investigations, there are further inquiries if alleged misconduct or criminal matters were uncovered and sometimes lessons to be learned from the particular circumstances of a case.

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