Two officers with Devon and Cornwall Police have been served with gross misconduct notices following the death of a handcuffed man being transported in the back of a van.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says its investigation into the detention of a man by Devon & Cornwall Police prior to his death is continuing.

The IOPC launched an independent investigation after the force referred the man’s death to it following his arrest near St Austell on July 13. Police officers had attended after a car was reported as being driven erratically in the area.

Stephen Reardon, 34, was handcuffed and transported in the back of a police van for the 17-mile journey to Newquay police station. During this time, he became unwell and after arriving at the custody unit, officers administered first aid in the yard of the station. He was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was sadly pronounced dead.

Based on the evidence reviewed so far, the IOPC have notified two police constables, the driver and passenger in the police van, that they are under criminal investigation for possible gross negligence manslaughter relating to their monitoring and care of Mr Reardon while he was in the police van.

It has also served each of the officers with a gross misconduct notice. It said it should be stressed that the serving of such notifications does not necessarily mean that criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings will follow.

"Our investigation is progressing well and we have been gathering further evidence, taking statements from relevant police officers and we are continuing to review police body worn video footage, along with CCTV from the station," the IOPC said in an update.

"We have conducted house-to-house enquiries in the area. Devon and Cornwall Police continue to fully cooperate with our investigation. An initial post-mortem proved inconclusive and the results of further tests are awaited. A Coroner’s inquest was opened and adjourned at the end of July."


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IOPC regional director David Ford said: “I once again express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Reardon for their loss.

"We are regularly updating family members and advising them of the progress we are making with our investigation. Due to the fact Mr Reardon became unwell during his detention by officers from Devon & Cornwall Police, we need to thoroughly and independently examine all the circumstances.

"This includes of Mr Reardon’s arrest, the level of care provided to him during the journey to Newquay and on arrival at the police station. We are also considering whether officers acted in accordance with policies and procedures".

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Devon and Cornwall Police has been co-operating fully with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation, following an immediate mandatory referral by the Force in July 2023.   

"Our thoughts and condolences remain with the family and friends of Mr Reardon and we remain committed to this independent and thorough investigation into the events surrounding his death.
"The officers under investigation by the IOPC remain on restricted duties."