Detained man died in chains
Pensioner awaiting deportation cuffed to officer
AN INQUEST jury found there was a lack of ‘unified procedures and training’ at an immigration detention centre where an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer died in chains.
Canadian Alois Dvorzac, 84, had been detained while trying to travel back to Slovenia, a country he had left decades before, to search for his long-lost daughter.
But the retired electrical engineer was refused entry into the UK on January 23, 2013, and taken to a privately run detention centre in Harmondsworth to await deportation.
During his time there he become agitated and complained of chest pains.
Paramedics were called to transport him to Hillingdon Hospital on February 8 that year where he died two days later.
Last Thursday (October 29) a jury at West London Coroner’s Court unanimously concluded: “Mr Dvorzac was suffering from acute coronary heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and had borderline mental capacity.
“He refused most medication, treatment and sustenance after being declared unfit for detention on January 30, 2013.
“There was a lack of unified procedures, training and access to relevant data records in dealing with a person of this age and capacity.”
The jury concluded, at the end of the nine day inquest, that the pensioner died from natural causes.
Paramedic Ricardo Ambrosino who treated Mr Dvorzac told Coroner Chinyere Inyama and the jury it had been ‘Home Office policy’ to keep the man chained to an officer despite his age and condition.
He said: “In my experience this was the first time I had seen handcuffs in this manner, of a chain connecting him to one of the officers.
“It was concerning because it was unnecessary as he was a frail person who could barely walk and didn’t need it.
“When we got to the hospital and having taken him inside, when we got to handing over to the nurses in A&E they were saying ‘why? why? why is he chained?’, they were shocked and I had to explain that I was told it was Home Office procedure.”
Mr Dvorzac was declared unfit for deportation or detention after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by British doctors.
But he was held for a further two weeks at Harmondsworth immigration detention centre before he was transferred to hospital.
He was readmitted two days later with chronic chest pains and died a few hours later.
An initial investigation found that the frail old man spent his last five hours in handcuffs.
Home Office head of detention services Karen Abdel-Hady, told the court: “In 2014, after the death of Mr Dvorzac, we introduced new detention policy. Previous to that restraints were used on a risk prevention basis, now the presumption is that restraints should not be used unless the risk assessment of that person says restraints should be used.”
n FRAIL: Alois Dvorzac and wife Dana