Vigil marks year anniversary of Leon Briggs death

A candlelit vigil to mark a year since the death of Leon Briggs saw more than 220 people gather outside Luton Police Station.

During the event, held on Tuesday night, fireworks and sky lanterns were let off as friends and family members paused to reflect the loss of the father-of-two.

Mr Briggs, 39, of Ashburnham Road, Luton, died on November 4 2013 after he was detained by police officers under section 136 of the Mental Health Act and taken to the Buxton Road station.

While in custody Mr Briggs fell ill and was taken to Luton and Dunstable Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Justice 4 Leon campaigner Liberty Louise told the Herald & Post that the vigil had “amazing feedback”.

She said: “It was a really pleasant evening which had a community vibe to it.

“It was peaceful but vibrant. Fireworks were set off, kids had sparklers and there was a band that performed.

“It wasn’t meant to be an evening of celebration but if you get people together there is a feeling of togetherness and strength in numbers.

“The turnout was similar to the one we had last year which goes to show there is still so much community interest and support.”

She added: “J4L would like to thank everyone that got involved and showed support, it was very uplifting.”

The vigil came just days after the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced that a police staff member previously under investigation in connection with Mr Briggs’ death is no longer being probed, and will now instead be interviewed again as a ‘significant witness’.

An IPCC spokesperson said: “The IPCC’s investigation into the death of Leon Briggs is continuing.

“Further criminal interviews with five police officers and a member of police staff will take place in the near future.

“We continue to keep Mr Briggs’ family and Bedfordshire Police updated about the progress of our investigation.”

On October 7 a second pre-inquest review into Mr Briggs’ death heard that the IPCC has received and assessed a post-mortem report, after which there remains “reasonable suspicion that criminal offences may have been committed”.

A cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

If the suspicion of criminal offences meets a required threshold the IPCC will pass its findings over to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would then decide whether or not to press charges.

J4L campaigners are set for their next meeting with the IPCC on November 20, when it is hoped further disclosure will be given.

The next pre-inquest hearing in Hatfield has been scheduled for March 11, with a full hearing not expected until late next year.

This date would be further delayed should the CPS press any charges, as Hertfordshire senior coroner Edward Thomas revealed he would be forced to suspend the inquest in these circumstances.

In the meantime J4L is planning to hold a march from Marsh Road to Luton Police Station in April, to symbolise the journey the father-of-two made in custody.

The event will also mark what would have been Mr Briggs’ 41st birthday.