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   Home      Reeves v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
Reeves v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2000] 1 AC 360 House of Lords

Martin Lynch committed suicide whilst in a police cell. He had attempted suicide earlier that day in the cells at the magistrates. He had also attempted suicide on previous occasions. He had been seen by a doctor at the police station on arrival who reported that he was not schizophrenic or depressed but was a suicide risk. The custody officer checked him at 1.57 pm and left the hatch open. He was found at 2.05 pm having used his shirt as a ligature secured by the open hatch. He was unable to be resuscitated and died a week later. The defendant argued that as Lynch was of sound mind his voluntary and informed act of suicide broke the chain of causation.


The act of suicide was the very thing that the police were under a duty to prevent to treat this as a novus actus interveniens would deprive the duty of any substance. Therefore the defendant was liable, however damages were reduced by 50% under the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945.
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