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Relatives 'told trial could fail' COURT: New doubts cast over wisdom of custody death case.

Byline: By Mark Cowan CRIME CORRESPONDENT

LAWYERS told the family of Michael Powell that the prosecution of ten police officers could fail just two days after it started, it emerged today.

The Birmingham Mail has learned senior Crown Prosecution Service solicitor Chris Enzor told the family that "acquittal is a real possibility".

The conversation occurred on May 11 at the close of the second day of the trial and before any witnesses had even been called.

Supporters of the officers said it raised further doubts about whether the prosecution, which cost an estimated pounds 7 million, should have been brought in the first place.

A CPS spokesman confirmed the meeting but said Mr Enzor was simply outlining to the family all the possibilities that could happen in the case.

"We make our decisions based on the realistic prospect of a conviction but it is not a certainty. We have to make that clear to the family of the victim.

"We always knew this was going to be a difficult case but felt it was right to take it to court."

Meanwhile, an expert in police training who examined the actions of the six officers who were involved in the restraint of Mr Powell today said they "did nothing wrong".

Les Pybus said none of the six officers had stepped outside the realm of their training or guidelines for dealing with violent suspects and even described the restraint of Mr Powell as "text book".

And he said a decision by two of the officers to drive a car at Mr Powell, at low speed and over a short distance, fell short of the maximum amount of force an officer could use and was okay as long as the officers could justify their actions.

Ten officers were charged with a number of offences after Michael Powell died in police custody after being detained outside his mother's house in September 2003. They have all been cleared.

Police Federation chairman Jan Berry said she couldn't believe the decision to prosecute could have been based on the evidence presented in court.

"There's an element here of police being made scapegoat for other people's indecisions," she added.

West Midlands Police Federation chairman Paul Tonks added: "Both the CPS and the Independent Police Complaints Commission must fully justify and account for decisions over the past three years."

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BLOW... sister Sharon and mum Claris of tragic Michael Powell (top).
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 4, 2006
Words:403
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