An 18-year-old man who died in a scooter crash following a police chase in north London was a drug dealer who was carrying multiple bags of cannabis when he died, the inquest into his death has been told. Henry Hicks died on 19 December 2014 after crashing into an oncoming vehicle in Islington while being followed by two unmarked police cars.
DS Arvinder Marwaha told St Pancras coroner’s court that he had recovered seven bags of skunk cannabis from a carrier bag found in Hicks’s clothing, with a street value of £70-£140. In addition, messages retrieved from Hicks’s iPhone and two Samsung mobile phones he had been carrying showed he had sent a message to 67 people saying he had skunk available. He had also received messages asking if he had drugs. To his police colleague who downloaded the data from the phones, DS Marwaha said, “it was evident that Mr Hicks was in essence a drug dealer."
On the third day of the inquest, the jury heard that Hicks had been stopped by police 89 times in the three years between October 2011 and December 2014 and searched on 71 of those occasions, according to an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Asked by Nicholas Rhodes QC, on behalf of the Hicks family, to confirm that none of those stops resulted in further action, Marwaha said: “I cannot remember any direct link to an arrest of Mr Hicks.”
The jury heard that nearly 100 of the messages found on Hicks’s phone referred to “banging lemon”, which the officer said was reference to the quality of a particular strain of skunk. Another message, received the day after his death, asked: “Any chance of getting half a z?,” which the jury was told was a reference to an ounce.
Marwaha said the scooter Hicks had been riding, which was registered to him, was found to have been stolen in April 2014. Its engine and chassis numbers had been ground down and its ignition barrel had been replaced, which concealed the fact that it was a more powerful vehicle than it appeared. He said that Hicks had been on bail at the time of his death pending trial for affray, and had previously received a youth caution for possession of cannabis.
The jury also heard medical evidence that Hicks had no drugs or alcohol in his system and had died as a result of a significant brain stem injury caused by severe impact. In a moving statement read to the court, the dead man’s sister Claudia Hicks described him as her best friend who had always put others above himself. “For us, living in a world without our precious Henry is like living in a world without colour. We feel like a part of our purpose has gone with him … I could fill a stadium with people whose lives were made better by my brother.
“He was our family’s glue. He kept our family together and we have fallen apart without him.”
The inquest continues.
By Esther Addley - The Guardian/June 15, 2016