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Carer who suffocated suspected thief ‘thought he was faking unconsciousness’

Carer who suffocated suspected thief ‘thought he was faking unconsciousness’
Nathan Smith knelt on Craig Wiltshire’s back for nine minutes while performing a citizen’s arrest.

A carer who suffocated a suspected thief while making a citizen’s arrest believed he was “pretending” to be unconscious, un tribunal a entendu.

Nathan Smith, 38, is accused of the manslaughter of 43-year-old Craig Wiltshire who suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest when the defendant knelt on his back for nine minutes.

Forgeron, de Bristol believed Mr Wiltshire was behind a series of car break-ins in his neighbourhood and tackled him to the floor after spotting him on CCTV in the early hours of November 20 2019.

He pinned him to the road for 12 minutes with his head twisted to the side until police arrived, and for nine of those minutes was kneeling on his back.

The citizen’s arrest was lawful, the actual detention and subsequent restraint was lawful, however the nature and the extent of the force used by Nathan Smith was not lawful

Prosecutor James Ward

On CCTV footage of the incident, Mr Wiltshire can be heard telling Smith he cannot breathe, and Smith replying “I don’t give a f***”.

He had lost consciousness by the time police arrived and died two weeks later on December 4 2019 from cardiorespiratory arrest and associated brain damage.

In footage from a police officer’s body-worn camera played to a jury at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday, Smith can be heard saying: “I grabbed him while he was on the floor – we all thought he was pretending.”

"Il (the victim) was doing everything he could, he was biting, spitting, trying to kick.”

Il ajoute: “Everybody knows he’s been trying to steal stuff out of cars – he just tries the car doors.”

Police officers also feared Mr Wiltshire was faking being unconscious. He was handcuffed on the floor and officers can be heard trying to persuade him to get up.

Sarah Moore, a neighbour, told the court that she did not believe Smith had used excessive force.

“Nathan was just trying his best to hold him down," elle a dit.

“He was holding him down to prevent him getting away, I can’t see that Nathan did anything unreasonable.”

Despite repeated complaints to the police, the thief was never caught and there was no active police investigation into the attempted break-ins.

Kimberly Lock, who also lived in the area, said the community had been “terrorised” by the break-ins, and had extra locks fitted to her house, including a sliding bolt to her bedroom.

Smith’s employer Michael Crooks, a man in his 50s, also became involved in the incident, at one point adding his body weight to Mr Wiltshire and threatening to break his arm.

Crooks’ son Ben arrived at the scene by car having been summoned by his father, and kicked Mr Wiltshire twice as he lay on the ground before calling the police.

Procureur James Ward said in opening that the crown’s case was that the use of force was “excessive and unreasonable”.

“The citizen’s arrest was lawful, the actual detention and subsequent restraint was lawful, however the nature and the extent of the force used by Nathan Smith was not lawful,” Mr Ward said.

The court heard the actions of Ben and Michael Crooks did not cause the death of Mr Wiltshire and they have therefore not been charged with manslaughter.

They have both admitted a charge of common assault.