Ian Tomlinson’s last moments shown at trial of Simon Harwood

Jury sees footage tracing newspaper vendor’s movements through City of London during G20 protests in 2009
Simon Harwood, charged with the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson, arrives at Southwark crown court with his wife, Helen. Photograph: Rex Features

A court has seen video footage of the minutes leading to the death of Ian Tomlinson, the man prosecutors allege was killed on the fringes of the G20 protests in London by a riot police officer who struck him with a baton before shoving him to the ground.

The jury at Southwark crown court also heard from friends of Tomlinson, who said he had been calm and happy on the evening of 1 April 2009, although clearly under the influence of drink. The court was shown another compilation of images, tracking the movements of the police constable involved, Simon Harwood, before his encounter with Tomlinson.

Tomlinson’s family looked on grim-faced as the prosecution showed dozens of video clips giving a chronological rundown of Tomlinson’s movements as he tried to return home, having spent time with a newspaper vendor friend by Monument station in the City.

They also saw several video angles of the moment when Harwood, a member of the Metropolitan police’s Territorial Support Group unit, struck Tomlinson on the leg with a baton as the 47-year-old walked away from police lines, his hands in his pockets. Harwood then shoved Tomlinson to the ground causing, the prosecution alleges, internal bleeding which killed him within little more than half an hour.

In his attempt to reach the hostel where he lived when not with his family at weekends, Tomlinson, a long-term alcoholic, headed towards Bank tube station, where he was turned back at a police cordon set up following clashes involving protesters marking the G20 meeting of world leaders. He then wandered through alleyways towards the pedestrian passageway by the Royal Exchange building, where he encountered Harwood.

This slow progress was followed by dozens of cameras, mainly CCTV but also shaky, handheld amateur video, and footage from TV crews. The montage, some of it only brief glimpses as Tomlinson walked past internal cameras in shops, was compiled by investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which initially investigated his death.

While there were still occasional skirmishes between police and protesters by this time, throughout his walk Tomlinson appeared calm, walking mainly with his hands in the pockets of his tracksuit trousers. The final footage, chronologically, showed Tomlinson briefly walking away after he was pushed to the ground and then, after a cut in the filming, lying prone on the pavement, where a medical student was trying to assist him.

Harwood, 45, was first shown standing by the police van he had been designated to drive, then dragging away a man who wrote graffiti on the vehicle, only to lose him when the man slipped out of his jacket. Wearing a riot helmet and balaclava but easily identifiable by a waist-length fluorescent jacket, Harwood then joined a line of other riot officers who began clearing the passageway.

Amid initial chaos, Harwood shoved a man who blew a plastic vuvuzela in his face before pushing over a cameraman filming an arrest.

Another piece of footage showed Harwood pushing a third man, who had stopped seemingly to help someone sitting on the pavement. It is shortly after this that the line of police reaches Tomlinson.

The court later heard from several of Tomlinson’s friends, including Barry Smith, a newspaper vendor who had known him for more than 25 years. Smith said his friend had been very happy that day, having cashed his giro and used some of the money to travel to the Millwall FC club shop in south-east London to buy a replica shirt and other clothes.

Tomlinson had left the stall only because the papers sold out early, Smith said: “If I’d phoned up and got some more papers he might have been alive. I’m gutted.”

Find this story at 19 June 2012

Peter Walker
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 June 2012 18.08 BST

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