Inquiry into football fan’s death may take years
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.