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Inquest reveals troubling details of Mohamud Hassan's death following police custody in Cardiff

Friday April 26, 2024

In an undated photo, Hassan shares a moment of joy. SUPPLIED

Cardiff (HOL) — Mohamud Hassan, 24, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Cardiff shortly after his release from police custody, sparking an inquest that has uncovered allegations of police misconduct and conflicting witness testimonies. The inquest, held this week at Pontypridd Coroners' Court, continues to probe the events leading up to Hassan's death on January 9, 2021.

Last week, the jury heard that Mr Hassan's cause of death was "unascertained" following a post-mortem examination.

During the inquest, Hassan's uncle, Sulieman Mohamed, testified about severe injuries observed on Hassan, including a cut lip and extensive redness, describing him as "exhausted, frail, and desperately in need of help." 

Mr. Mohamed said his nephew had always been a "bright, smiling lad," but that morning, he "was in a state you don't want to see anyone in," citing Mr. Hassan's comments that "they've been beating me up." He stated that he told Mr. Hassan to rest and that they would take care of his injuries. "I gave him a kiss and said, 'I promise I will deal with this,'" Mr. Mohamed said.

The jury also heard from Mr Hassan's aunt, Zainab Hassan, who saw him in the hours following his release and claimed she tried to persuade him to seek medical attention, but he refused, citing exhaustion.  

"I was worried if there was internal damage," she told the jury.

Later that evening, Mr. Mohamed said he was at home when he heard his wife Zainab "screaming Mohamud's name over and over" and that he could "tell something major was wrong."

Mr. Hassan was found unresponsive in his Newport Road apartment just before 10:30 p.m., prompting emergency services to attempt CPR. Despite their efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene. At the time of his death, toxicology results showed low levels of cocaine and cannabis in his blood and urine.

Upon arriving at the apartment, Mr. Hassan's uncle, Mr. Mohamed, encountered paramedics trying to resuscitate his nephew on the cold kitchen floor. Mr. Mohamed observed pink and red marks on Mr. Hassan's chest, which he suspected were injuries, and expressed a desire to take photographs, though he was advised against it by the ambulance crew.

The scene was described as chaotic by Mr. Mohamed, who was informed by one of Mr. Hassan's friends that he had "gone to sleep and when they tried to wake him, they found him dead in bed." Toxicological analysis revealed low levels of cocaine and cannabis in Mr. Hassan's blood and urine at the time of his death. Forensic pathologist Dr. Deryk James later testified at the inquest that a medical cause of death could not be determined.

The jury was also shown CCTV footage of Mr. Hassan walking away from Cardiff Bay Police Station and taking a taxi to Newport Road.

PC Samantha Taylor stated she saw no blood on Hassan near the station and described him as moving quickly across the road. However, Taxi driver Bashir Yousef also reported seeing blood stains on Hassan's clothing and recalled Hassan blaming the police for his injuries.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Russell O'Rourke, defending his actions during Hassan's detention, claimed they were justified, believing Hassan was about to spit at officers. "I then turned rapidly to Mr Hassan's head and moved it down to my side to ensure he could not spit, either at me or my colleagues, as I had been made aware he had been spitting in the van," the jury was told. O'Rourke's testimony aligns with footage showing an officer forcibly pushing Hassan's head down as he was escorted to the police cells.

Hassan was initially arrested for breaching the peace but was released without charges. His death, occurring hours after his release, raised questions about his treatment while in police custody. The autopsy revealed low levels of cocaine and cannabis in Hassan's system but failed to determine these as the cause of death.

The case elicited significant public outcry, with about 300 people protesting in Cardiff city center, demanding justice and greater accountability in police conduct following Hassan's death. Residents have blasted the Welsh police for refusing to release the bodycam footage of his detention. The family and community members continue to seek answers, hoping the ongoing inquest will shed light on the circumstances of Hassan's tragic demise.


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