Jimmy Mubenga was a 45 year old Angolan citizen and a father to five children.
In 2006, on a BA flight from Heathrow Airport to Angola, Jimmy Mubenga died while under restraint of G4S security guards. A disagreement broke out between Mubenga and G4S security, Mubenga was then restrained and dragged to his seat on the BA chartered flight. While being restrained, Jimmy Mubenga was heard pleading for help while shouting, “I can't breathe” & “They’re killing me, they’re killing me.” Shortly afterwards, Mubenga became unconscious and while the plane was preparing for take off, G4S staff checked Mubenga for signs of life and could not find a pulse. After calling an ambulance, paramedics assessed Mr Mubenga where they pronounced him dead at the scene. Shortly after the case became public, it was revealed that the three guards involved had an economic incentive to ensure that the flight departed. This may have been a contributing factor as to why they were so persistent and forceful when handling Mr Mutengba. It was revealed that the guards stood to lose £170 each if the deportation did not go ahead as planned. British Airways also faced financial penalties if the flight was delayed.
What was the legal implication?
In december 2014, following a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, the guards (Terrence Hughes, 53, Colin Kaler, 52 and Stuart Tribelnig, 39) were found not guilty of Mr Mubenga's manslaughter.
An inquest jury in July 2013 found that the 46-year-old was unlawfully killed. Karon Monaghan QC says in her report the "numerous" racist text messages found on the mobile phones of two of the officers removing Mr Mubenga "were not evidence of a couple of 'rotten apples' but rather seemed to evidence a more pervasive racism within G4S". One of the three defendants, Terrence Hughes, had 76 racist texts on his phone which abused Black Africans, Asians and Muslims and were racist about immigration. The Old Bailey judge refused to allow the jury to hear about dozens of “grossly offensive and undoubtedly racist” text messages because they did not have “any real relevance” to the trial.
Since the inquest, a woman called Louise Graham, who was working for British Airways on the day of Mubenga’s death, is now suing G4S for £100,000 for the emotional distress caused by witnessing the event.
If you want to find out more about other victims of police and state violence in the UK, click here.
The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where mental health-related issues are a feature is nearly two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody.