Author: Sam Ferguson
AN EYEWITNESS has spoken of the “needless” death of a 23-year-old Sudanese man during a Home Office immigration raid in Newport.
Lyn Saunders, 70, was waiting for his car to be cleaned at the Shaftesbury Hand Car Wash, in Albany Street, Newport, on Saturday, when immigration officers swooped.
Within minutes, Mr Saunders said, over a dozen officers jumped out of two vans and started chasing car wash workers.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed a man had died in the raid, and said the case had been referred to the Independent Office for Police Complaints.
“During the course of the operation a 23-year-old Sudanese man fell from height and the operation was suspended,” he added.
“Officers at the scene performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The man was transferred by ambulance to hospital, where he later died. Our thoughts are with his family.
Describing the moment the officers arrived, Mr Saunders, of Fields Park Avenue, Newport, said: “It was a bit like a Carry-On film.
“There were about half a dozen of us sitting in the cafe next to the car wash waiting for our cars to be done.
“The worker’s just scattered. It was a bit of a shock to say the least.
“One of the workers managed to get up onto the roof, and the next thing you heard was a huge bang as he fell through.
“The officers all went white.
“About 10 minutes later the a small ambulance arrived, and you could tell by their faces he had died.”
Mr Saunders told the South Wales Argus he went back to the car wash a couple of days later to find out what had happened, after failing to get any information from either Gwent Police or the Home Office.
“The car wash was open again, with different people this time,” he said. “Someone at the cafe that it’s never the same people two days running.
“I spoke to one of the car wash workers, and he said he was the man’s brother. He told me he had died.
“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or whether you’re an illegal immigrant or not.
“He was just going to work, and didn’t deserve to die. No one deserves that. It’s just needless, the car wash wasn’t even closed down.”
The IOPC has confirmed it is investigating the incident.
A spokesman said: “It is understood, following the arrival of the officers, a man working there climbed onto an adjacent factory roof. A short while later he was found on the floor of an annex building next to the factory with critical injuries.
“Initial accounts have been gained from the Immigration Enforcement officers who attended, and car wash staff and other witnesses are being spoken to. CCTV from the area of the factory is being recovered.
“HM Coroner for Gwent has been advised and the man’s next of kin in Sudan are being informed. Investigators have spoken to Sudanese friends of the man living in the UK.
Jonathan Green, IOPC regional director who has responsibility for Home Office matters, said: “This was a tragic and shocking incident and my thoughts go out to the man’s family and everyone else affected.
“We have a remit to investigate in certain circumstances where a death or serious injury occurs to a member of the public in the course of immigration enforcement staff carrying out their duties.
“We would like to assure everyone concerned by this incident that we have begun a thorough, independent investigation into exactly what happened on Saturday morning, and the planning of the operation.”
The investigation follows a mandatory referral from the Immigration Enforcement team in the Home Office. The team carrying out the operation were based in Cardiff.