21 December 2015 - The Independent Police Conduct Authority released a report today finding that the Police’s initial investigation into the death of Nathan Booker, a severely disabled 15 year old, was inadequate and did not comply with Police policy.
Nathan Booker died on 10 January 2014 after drowning in a bath at a respite care facility. His mother, Angela Middlemiss, made a complaint to the Authority on 30 June 2014 stating that Police had not properly investigated her son’s death and had failed to charge the caregiver who left Nathan unattended in the bath.
Ms Middlemiss also complained that an officer was insensitive when he met with her to explain the Police’s decision not to prosecute the caregiver.
The Authority’s investigation was concluded in July 2015, however publication of the Authority’s report was delayed due to ongoing court proceedings relating to Nathan Booker’s death.
In releasing today’s report, Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said that Police did not carry out their initial investigation of Nathan Booker’s death adequately because they did not sufficiently examine the legal issue of gross negligence.
Additionally, Police did not comply with policy because the primary officers involved in the investigation into Nathan’s death were not suitably qualified to conduct this type of homicide investigation.
The Authority also concluded that Police should have obtained a legal opinion before deciding not to prosecute. Sir David said: “Cases of negligence causing death are typically complex and Police should have sought legal advice before deciding not to lay charges.
Due to conflicting evidence the Authority was unable to make a finding on the issue of whether an officer acted insensitively during the Police’s meeting with Ms Middlemiss.
Following Ms Middlemiss’s complaint Police reviewed their initial investigation and, on 7 May 2015, charged a caregiver with manslaughter in relation to Nathan’s death. However the charge was withdrawn on 7 December 2015.
“Nathan was a much-loved member of his family and this was a tragic event” Sir David said.
Police have advised the Authority that they have recently taken a number of steps to address the issues raised in this report.