Death of Roger Sylvester

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Roger Sylvester
Born c.1968
Died 19 January 1999(1999-01-19) (age 30)
Whittington Hospital, Islington
Cause of death
Cardiac arrest, brain ischemia
Nationality British
Ethnicity Black British
Occupation Local government administration officer
Parent(s) Rupert and Sheila Sylvester

Roger Sylvester (c.1968 – 19 January 1999) was a mentally ill man who died after being detained outside his home in Tottenham, London, by eight Metropolitan police officers. It was reported that his neighbours had complained to police of a disturbance after Sylvester had started banging on his own front door, naked.[1]

Police detained Sylvester under the Mental Health Act, then took him to St Ann's Hospital, Haringey, where he fell into a coma while being restrained on the floor of a padded room by six officers while being assessed by medical staff.[2] He died at Whittington Hospital, Islington, 8 days later without regaining consciousness.[2]

In 2003, an inquest heard that Sylvester, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had died of brain damage and cardiac arrest, caused by difficulty breathing because of the position he was held in. A jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in October 2003.[1]

The eight officers who had taken Sylvester into custody appealed to the High Court against what they called an "irrational" ruling, and the verdict was overturned in November 2004.[3]

In 1999, forensic pathologist Dr Freddy Patel was reprimanded by the General Medical Council (GMC) for releasing medical details about Roger Sylvester to reporters outside an inquest hearing, Patel told reporters that Sylvester was a crack cocaine user, something his family denied. Patel later came under scrutiny for findings he had made in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Detained man unlawfully killed". BBC News. 3 October 2003. 
  2. ^ a b Kennedy, Dominic (25 January 1999). "Grieving parents demand explanation". The Times (London). p. 2. 
  3. ^ "Unlawful killing verdict quashed". BBC News. 26 November 2004. 
  4. ^ Bowcott, Owen (12 July 2010). "Ian Tomlinson pathologist accused of incompetence over autopsies". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 August 2010. 

External links[edit]

  • Waldran, Justin. Roger Sylvester, National Civil Rights Movement
  • Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody. [1]