In­quiry into foot­ball fan’s death may take years

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Matt Law

The fam­ily of the Eng­land foot­ball fan who died in Bul­garia have been told an in­de­pen­dent pros­e­cu­tor has been put in charge of their case after find­ing out he suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest while in po­lice cus­tody.

But Rob Spray’s fam­ily have been warned it could take four years to find out why Bul­gar­ian po­lice took him out of Pirogov hos­pi­tal and what treat­ment he re­ceived – even though an in­quest date has pro­vi­sion­ally been set for April 28, 2020.

Spray died in the run-up to Eng­land’s Euro 2020 qual­i­fier against Bul­garia in Sofia last month. A re­port re­leased by the Bul­gar­ian in­te­rior min­istry claimed he be­came “ag­gres­sive” in hos­pi­tal be­fore po­lice were called and he died in tran­sit. The re­sults of an au­topsy car­ried out this week have re­vealed Spray died of a car­diac ar­rest and had not suf­fered any bro­ken bones.

His fam­ily have not re­ceived any ex­pla­na­tion as to why Spray was al­lowed to be taken out of hos­pi­tal and put into po­lice cus­tody and what treat­ment he re­ceived from hos­pi­tal staff and the po­lice.

The re­sults of a tox­i­col­ogy re­port should be re­leased within four weeks and an in­de­pen­dent pros­e­cu­tor has been put in charge of car­ry­ing out an in­quest, as a re­sult of pres­sure from his fam­ily, the For­eign Of­fice, Spray’s lo­cal MP for Can­nock Chase, Amanda Milling and an on­line pe­ti­tion that is push­ing to­wards 100,000 sig­na­tures.

The fam­ily have been warned by Stafford­shire po­lice that, de­spite the at­tempt of the coro­ner to speed up the process, it could be be­tween six months and four years be­fore they get an­swers over why Spray was taken out of hos­pi­tal by po­lice, what prompted his car­diac ar­rest and the treat­ment he re­ceived.

“It was a re­lief to find out Rob had not suf­fered any bro­ken bones, but the fact he died of a car­diac ar­rest still leaves a lot of ques­tions,” said Spray’s fa­ther Mal­colm.

“The big­gest ques­tion is still why was he taken out of hos­pi­tal? There are a lot of ques­tions too about what treat­ment he re­ceived and what were the cir­cum­stances in the po­lice car. It still feels like Rob was treated a cer­tain way be­cause he was an English foot­ball sup­porter.”

Spray’s fam­ily hope his fu­neral will take place on Nov 14 and mourn­ers will be given the op­tion of wear­ing their favourite foot­ball shirt to recog­nise his pas­sion for the sport as a West Bromwich Al­bion sea­son ticket holder.

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