Police beat up dedicated churchgoer for car ‘break-in’

A shockingly little-known case of police brutality & racism….

It began in the early hours of 13th January 1997 at Brent, London.

Simon Ndekwe went to his car parked outside his home which was just a stone’s throw from the huge Neasden rail depot, to collect some bibles. He forgot his car keys so tried all the locks to see if he could get into the car. Meanwhile the Metropolitan police arrived on the scene and they asked what he was doing. Simon explained to the officers the situation then turned to go in his flat to find the keys.

Simon says it was clear the police did not believe he was the owner of the car and as soon as he turned towards the entrance to his flats, the police began raining blows on his body. They hit him with batons and if that wasn’t enough, they kicked and punched him too. News reports say one officer shouted out loudly ‘I’ll kill the Black bastard.’

Simon was beaten to the ground and held face down. His family ran out upon hearing the commotion and saw the police continually striking at him, calling him ‘black monkey’ and other disgusting racist slurs.

blackbirdhill
English Martyrs’ Church, Blackbird Hill, Brent, where the Ndekwe family were regulars.

Simon’s wife Helen tried to intervene but the police kept her away. He was dumped into a police van where he says police continued to beat him up. Upon arrival at Wembley police station Simon says the officers continued with their orgy of violence. He passed out and eventually woke up in the psychiatric unit at Northwick Park hospital, severely injured and in great pain. He remained hospitalised for three weeks.

The injuries received were clearly documented by the hospital and these included black eyes, bruises, swollen lips, cuts, broken ribs. Doctors were so concerned for Simon’s health – his head had swollen badly and his eyes were protruding. His wife visited him in hospital – she assumed he was dead because he just did not move at all.

ndekwe
Report in the Worker’s Hammer Nov/Dec 1998


Lawyers were so appalled at the extent of Simon’s injuries they took out a civil action against the Met Police. The Met responded to this by issuing a summons against Simon for assaulting its officers, asserting that any writ issued against their officers would be strongly defended.

brentcourt
Willesden (Brent) Magistrates’ Court, London, where the case was heard (Source Get West London)

Simon attended Brent Magistrates’ Court in October 1998 to answer the charge of assault. The Met Police allege Simon threw a brick at them and assaulted an officer. The police claim they only struck Simon on the arms and legs and claim just a small amount of blood under the nose could be seen and that Simon had no other visible injuries. 

An independent witness who represented the police at the hearing claim they saw Simon assaulting the police. The police further allege Simon was extremely violent towards them during a 12 hour spell in custody at Wembley police station and the reason they put him in a psychiatric ward was because they deemed Simon mentally ill. His wife refuted this.

The police’s testimony was very questionable. No injuries were received by the Met’s officers. Dipen Rajyaguru (at the time a consultant for the 1990 Trust) commented “If he (Simon) was ill, that only adds another unhappy dimension to the police behaviour. They should have treated him with more care. If he was as violent as they claim, why were no police officers similarly injured?”

Having heard the police evidence against Simon and seen the photographs of his horrific injuries, the magistrates threw the case out. The Met Police had no case to answer.

jasper
Lee Jasper. Source: Tragichorus blog


Lee Jasper, then the director of the 1990 Trust defending Simon’s case said, “These allegations of battery, false imprisonment and racism are some of the worst we have ever dealt with.” 

The Police Complaints Authority began an investigation, but its conclusions are not known. No officer involved in the case was ever suspended nor charged. 

Simon became nervous of going out after the incident. It took him a long time to recover fully from the atrocity but when he did he went on to become minister in charge of a North London church.

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