Joy Gardner

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Joy Gardner was a 40-year-old [African-Caribbean community] mother and undocumented migrant from Jamaica who died during a struggle with police serving a deportation order at her home in Crouch End, London in 1993.


In 1987 Gardner went to the United Kingdom to visit her mother, Myrna Simpson, on six month visa. Gardner was pregnant at the time, and after the birth of her son applied for an extension to her visa, but this was refused. After her visa expired, she remained in the country illegally, ignoring two orders to leave.[1]


On 28 July 1993 an immigration officer and police officers arrived at her home to serve a deportation notice. When Gardner refused, the police entered her home and struggled and fought with her. Police gagged and restrained Gardner using a body belt and had wrapped 13 ft of tape around her head which they later said was to prevent her biting them. The officers involved stated that Gardner violently resisted arrest.[2] Gardner suffocated and subsequently fell into a coma. She later died in hospital.


The three police officers involved were found not guilty of manslaughter in 1995.

The acquittal of the police officers sparked a reaction in Britain's black community which led to a protest movement for justice for Joy and her family. Campaigners claim that the police were brutal and used excessive force. The poet Benjamin Zephaniah wrote The Death of Joy Gardner about the incident.[3] Jackie Kay also wrote a poem in her memory entitled Teeth.[4]

In 1999 Gardner's family brought a civil suit against the police for compensation.


  1. ^ Justice for Joy, Channel 4, 20 June 1994
  2. ^ BBC News | UK | Joy Gardner's family sues police
  3. ^ The Death of Joy Gardner Benjamin Zephaniah
  4. ^ Kay, Jackie. Teeth, Off Colour. Bloodaxe Books: 1998.