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Rough sleeper dies in custody

September 30 2010
Independent Police Complaints Commission will examine CCTV and police custody records

An investigation has been launched into the death of a rough sleeper who died in police custody.

Thirty-six-year-old Valdas Jasiunas was arrested on suspicion of begging at 12.50pm on Wednesday 1 September 2010 and taken to Forest Gate Police Station in East London. He was found collapsed in his cell at approximately 8am the next morning and taken to Newham General Hospital. He was pronounced dead at approximately 8.15pm on Thursday 2 September.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which always investigates deaths in custody, said that the post mortem examination was inconclusive and further tests had, therefore, been commissioned. IPCC investigators will examine CCTV and police custody records as well as accounts from all officers present during Mr Jasiunas's time in custody.

Rachel Cerfontyne, IPCC Commissioner, said: "This investigation will focus on the care this man received while in police custody to see if anything could have been done differently to prevent his death."

Inquiries are ongoing to trace the man's next of kin, and formal identification has not yet taken place.

Mr Jasiunas, of no fixed abode, was originally from Lithuania. Any Pavement readers who knew him are urged to get in touch with the IPCC.

An inquest will be opened and adjourned at Walthamstow Coroner's Court in due course. Trish Keville, the IPCC's press officer for London, said that is was difficult to predict how long an investigation of this kind would take.

In 2008/09 there were 92 deaths during or following police contact; 15 of these were in or following police custody.

His was not the only death in East London in September: on Thursday 8 September, the body of a homeless man was found in Buckingham Road Cemetery in Ilford - see Man charged with Ilford murder.