Sunday, 28 July 2013

Joy Gardner, Death Twenty Years Ago, Deportation, Police, Immigration, Linda Evans, Colin Whitby, John Burrell, Nellie Sterling

Twenty years ago - on 28th July 1993  – Joy Gardner and her five-year-old son Graeme were startled by an early morning police raid on their north London home. Paul Coleman reports.

The ‘Smear Campaign’ 

against Joy Gardner

London's Metropolitan Police were reportedly on a state of alert following the death of Joy Gardner in the summer of 1993, writes Paul Coleman.
Senior police officers fretted that the death of a black Jamaican mother at the hands of police officers could see London experience riots of the kind that had struck Los Angeles in April 1992.*

Deportation squad police officers raided Joy Gardner’s Crouch End apartment early on the morning of 28th July, 1993. Immigration officers had ordered police to arrest and deport Gardner, aged 40, as they had deemed her to be an ‘illegal overstayer’.
  Information posted by immigration officers in Gardner’s case file had suggested she was determined and possibly violent.

Thirteen feet of tape
During the raid, police officers fixed a body belt around Gardner’s waist. Reports said thirteen feet of tape was wrapped around Gardner - in the presence of Graeme, her five-year-old son.
  Police said this was to stop Gardner resisting arrest but family and friends claim she suffocated. Gardner never recovered from a coma and died some days later from brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen.

'Smear campaign'
People protested against police and immigration officers on the streets of Crouch End and Hornsey. A heavily policed demonstration took place outside Hornsey Police Station. But the protest passed without incident – despite media hype about potential trouble.
  In the months after Gardner’s death, newspapers like the Daily Mail and Daily Express ran stories depicting Joy Gardner as a determined illegal immigrant with a violent temper. Journalists received information about the identity and whereabouts of Gardner’s former boyfriend. Stories quoted the boyfriend claiming Gardner had been violent towards him.
  Gardner's friends claimed this amounted to a concerted 'smear campaign' against her. They claimed immigration officers had wrongly informed deportation police officers that Gardner could be violent - and when Gardner died, they claimed police and immigration officers had encouraged journalists to write stories suggesting Gardner was a violent person.

Two years later, three police officers – Detective Sergeant Linda Janet Evans and Police Constables, Colin Leonard Whitby and John Winter Burrell - stood trial at the Old Bailey and were acquitted of the manslaughter of Joy Gardner. No police or immigration officers faced disciplinary action.


After the trial, during the summer of 1995, this writer met and interviewed Nellie Sterling, a close friend of Joy Gardner.
  Sterling countered claims that Gardner was a violent person. In fact, Sterling, said Gardner was unable to walk at the time of the raid – and could not have violently resisted her deportation.
This blog’s next posting publishes an account of that interview.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2013

The LA riots killed 53 people and injured over 2,000. They began after a trial jury acquitted four LA Police Department officers of a prolonged violent assault on motorist Rodney King, an African-American. 
 George Holliday videoed on a camcorder from a nearby apartment the police beating King. National TV aired Holliday’s film across the United States - many years before the advent of You Tube, Twitter and Facebook.

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