Signs of potential disturbance found in Sheku Bayoh home, inquiry hears

Police found signs of a potential disturbance when they searched the home of a man who died after being restrained by officers, an inquiry has heard.

Detective Constable Robert Finch said officers examined various locations as they tried to piece together Sheku Bayoh’s movements in the hours before his death more than seven years ago.

Mr Bayoh, 31, a father-of-two, died after he was restrained on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3 2015.

The inquiry is investigating the circumstances of his death and whether race was a factor.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Laywer Aamer Anwar (centre) with Sheku Bayoh’s sisters Kadi Johnson (right) and Kosna Bayoh (left) arriving for an earlier hearing (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The inquiry heard that on May 4, DC Finch was appointed crime scene manager for Mr Bayoh’s home address in Kirkcaldy and the home of one of his friends, where investigators were looking for any evidence that may have been relevant to the investigation into his death.

Laura Thomson, junior counsel to the Sheku Bayoh Inquiry, read from the statement DC Finch gave to the inquiry in which he described what kind of things officers might be looking for.

It said: “I wasn’t given specific information about what might be relevant, but from memory it was passed that Mr Bayoh had possession of a knife, it was passed that there were potential drugs, there was mention of these purple and white pills that had been flushed down the toilet.

“My understanding was that we were looking for any loci with an obvious knife set with one missing. We were looking for any controlled drugs or substance of legal high.

“There was also mention of fights between witnesses and the deceased so we were looking for any evidence of disturbance within these loci.”

Asked what the purpose of the searches was, DC Finch replied: “We were looking for anything that could indicate Mr Bayoh’s movements, and going into that morning.”

DC Finch arrived at Mr Bayoh’s home address at around 7.20pm on May 4 and found signs that a disturbance may have taken place.

Ms Thomson referred to his statement to the inquiry and said: “You noticed fridge magnets on the floor and there were fridge magnets on the footpath outside the property, a watch strap was broken and photographs were taken, and there was recovery by the scenes examiners.

“You say: ‘I don’t see that I put it in my statement, but looking back now that is indicative of a potential disturbance, potentially fridge magnets were pulled off a fridge and a watch strap with one side potentially pulled off.’

“‘There was a small flat screen television on the floor possibly indicative of being knocked over.’”

Asked whether there were any other signs of a disturbance, he said: “Not that I recall.”

DC Finch said he also remembered seizing three knives from the kitchen along with a red-coloured rucksack on top of either a unit or a fridge freezer with various tablets inside.

Trainee gas engineer Mr Bayoh was born in Sierra Leone and moved to the UK when he was 12. He moved to Scotland after living in London for five years.

The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues on Wednesday.