Family shocked at slow pace of probe

A TEENAGER whose father died while in police custody today revealed she was so shocked by his death that she visited the morgue to see his body five times.

A TEENAGER whose father died while in police custody today revealed she was so shocked by his death that she visited the morgue to see his body five times.

Michelle Snelling, 19, has spoken for the first time about her harrowing ordeal since her father Ian Snelling collapsed in a cell.

She said: “I could not believe he was dead - I had to keep going back to see him.

“I was with him the night before and the next day the police were round telling me my dad had died. I could not believe it, it was all so unreal.

“And I still don't know how or why he died or what happened. It has been a horrible, terrible time.”

Officers from Norfolk police have been brought in by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to examine how Mr Snelling died after being arrested at the VK1 off-licence in Undercliff Road West, Felixstowe, on September 1 last year.

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But the family have been left shocked after being told officers involved in the arrest have apparently still not been interviewed - six months after the investigation began.

Miss Snelling, of William Booth Way, Felixstowe, said: “I saw my father every day. We were very close, especially since my mother and sister moved to Cambridge.

“Losing him has hit me really hard. I feel so empty. I have found it very difficult to cope. I have been scared to go out, and so I have lost my job in an office at the port which I enjoyed.

“It has been a really horrible time and I still don't feel I will be able to come to terms with any of this until we know what the investigation report says and that could still be months away. It is taking such a long time. It's ridiculous.”

The family were able to have a funeral for Mr Snelling, 51, of Manwick Road, Felixstowe, at the end of January, though Miss Snelling said she was too upset to attend.

She said her dad, who has been described as a devoted father who was passionate about music and art, had had mental health problems but was acting out of character when he was arrested on suspicion of theft. He collapsed and died two hours later at Felixstowe police station.

Family friend Paul Garnham said there had been several meetings with the Crown Prosecution Service and IPCC.

He said: “They told us last week the officers involved have not been interviewed yet. It is frustrating. All we can do is wait and we don't know how long that will be.”

A spokeswoman for the IPCC said the investigation was continuing and there was no other comment at this stage.

The 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 are uncovered and sometimes lessons to be learned from the particular circumstances of a case.

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