Homeless man died after being thrown out of police station into -1C weather

News

A police officer was sacked and another reprimanded after they kicked a homeless man out of the police station and refused to let him back in before they sat and watched a DVD.

Pericles Malagardis, 63, was found outside the station at 5.30am the following morning with hypothermia after temperatures had plunged to minus one and he was rushed to hospital but died.

West London Coroners Court was told how he would have “inevitably” died in the next 24 hours because of other health problems.

However, an inquest jury decided that hypothermia had “accelerated” his death.

A year after the death, PC Bhupinder Kalsi, who had physically taken Mr Malagardis out of the station with another officer and did not let him back in, was sacked for gross misconduct.

Mr Malagardis, originally from Crete, regularly slept rough at Heathrow Airport. On the night in question, he had gone to Uxbridge Police Station to collect his dog but refused to leave until he got him back.

His Jack Russell, Django, had been put in kennels while Mr Malagardis was being treated in hospital for a skin infection.

He was told that he couldn’t get Django until the following day and decided to simply wait at the station.

Mr Malagardis moved to London in 1989 and worked as a delivery driver for more than a decade before losing his job and becoming homeless after the breakdown of a relationship.

He was described as a “familiar figure” in Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport and wellwishers had been attempting to contact his sons in Greece and raise money for him to fly back to his home country.

He had arrived at the police station at around 4pm on March 4 2016 but was physically thrown out by PC Kalsi and a member of police staff shortly before 1am because he lit a cigarette inside.

He had been discharged from hospital two days before that and had bandages around his legs, a coroner was told.

The court heard how the night was so cold that one officer noticed that ice had formed on their car windscreen.

After being thrown out at around 12.40am, Mr Malagardis stood outside before falling down and remaining on the ground until the officers called paramedics at 5.30am.

He was officially pronounced dead in hospital at 6.45am.

The inquest heard how Mr Malagardis was suffering from stomach ulcers which had progressed through multiple layers of his stomach causing sepsis.

Dr Dominic Bell, an expert medical witness, told the jury that Mr Malagardis would have died within the next 24 hours regardless of any intervention on March 4.

Giving evidence, he said: “I am of the belief he would have died at any point within the subsequent 24 hours in an environment with normal temperature.”

Summarising his evidence, Coroner Chinyere Inyama said: “He spoke of the opportunity to avoid death only if Mr Malagardis had remained in hospital from March 1, and even then he would have needed full investigative and surgical interventions with post-op therapy.

“He would still have been at significant risk because of his condition. The reality of what happened once he was allowed to leave hospital on March 2 – his pathology had progressed with the inevitable outcome of death.”

Concluding the inquest, a jury decided that Mr Malagardis’ cause of death would be recorded as “pre-existing medical condition accelerated by hypothermia.”

They agreed that he had primarily died of an inflamed abdominal wall caused by stomach ulcers and sepsis.

PC Kalsi was fired in 2017 following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which found the female officer was “viewing a DVD whilst on duty, following Mr Malagardis’ ejection from the front office/reception area” and “failed to exercise reasonable care in her treatment and monitoring of Mr Malagardis, following his ejection.”

The report added: “[She] did not provide information requested by the London Ambulance Service regarding actions taken to support Mr Malagardis, and failed to follow instruction and training when dealing with unresponsive casualties after he was found unconscious on the pavement.”

A police staff member, also involved in ejecting Mr Malagardis, had a separate finding of poor performance following a management investigation hearing in December 2018.

The staff member was instructed to update their emergency life support treatment training.

The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service but it found there was not enough evidence to bring a prosecution.

The Met Police has since introduced guidelines to assist officers if similar situations arise in the future.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “This was a particularly tragic case as, so it turned out, Mr Malagardis was close to returning to home as money had been raised by local well-wishers to buy his flight back to Greece.

“The lack of care towards Mr Malagardis by the officer and the staff member was particularly cruel and the failings of the officer to give adequate first aid was the major reason for her dismissal.

“Police officers have a duty of care for people they come into contact with, and Mr Malagardis was clearly failed by this officer.

“More than four years on, the impact of Pericles Malagardis’ tragic death lives on. Our thoughts remain with those who knew him.”