A DISGRACE: South Yorkshire Police failed hanged Rotherham man

Danny Cavill who died at Whiston Golf Course. Police criticised for not sending helicopter up to look for him
Danny Cavill who died at Whiston Golf Course. Police criticised for not sending helicopter up to look for him

A POLICE helicopter which could have saved a young man’s life was not sent up - because staff were due to knock off duty, an inquest heard.

Family, friends and police officers on the ground were all searching desperately for 21-year-old Danny Cavill after he threatened to harm himself following a night out.

Danny was still alive when a request was put in to South Yorkshire Police for a helicopter to help find him.

But night-time air support staff declined - as their shift was due to end 20 minutes later.

An investigation found because ‘a life was at risk’ the shift should have been extended by an hour, and Danny, who was later found hanged at Sitwell Park Golf course, could have been saved.

Acting Chief Inspector David Butler said: “We will never know if the helicopter would have found Danny that morning, but in my view it should have been given the opportunity.”

He said a sergeant had been reprimanded, and air support staff given further training, following the tragedy at the golf club, near Whiston, where the 21-year-old was an assistant greenkeeper.

Chief Insp Butler outlined a series of mistakes by the force and said another helicopter could have been brought in from neighbouring forces but the call was never made.

He said the incident should have been classed as an ‘immediate priority’.

An expert search officer was not contacted, and mobile phone technology was not used which could have pinpointed Danny’s position within 200m and narrowed down the search.

Mr Butler said the police sergeant was working on a ‘flawed assessment’ passed to him second-hand from the family.

Danny, who was drunk, had been thrown out of Liquid nightclub in Rotherham town centre at about 2am on May 7 last year.

He phoned his best friend Josh Hill, 21, and said: “Nobody likes me, I can’t get in contact with anyone. I’m going to do something stupid and I’m walking by the rail track now.”

Josh raised the alarm and searchers went to a railway bridge Danny, from Rotherham, had previously been when drunk.

Sgt Kevin Bradley – the officer who was later reprimanded – said the family did not believe Danny would carry out the threat, and he rated the incident only as ‘medium risk’ so did not call the consortium helicopter.

“I would have had to justify the other helicopter when we were not sure he was going to carry out the threat,” he said.

Danny’s father Stephen said: “He used to like a drink and fell asleep in different places. That is what we thought happened that night.”

Danny tried to call and text his girlfriend Simone Fox before attempts to contact him by phone failed.

Rotherham coroner Nicola Mundy said: “The quality of communication was disappointing in the extreme and basic questions could have been asked which would have affected the prioritisation of the response.

“The helicopter was not properly pursued. It was available had proper questions been posed. There were missed opportunities which could have affected the outcome.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, she said Danny had a ‘disproportionate’ reaction to being thrown out of the club, exacerbated by alcohol.