Police apology to teenager's family over nitrous oxide statement


Police have apologised to the family of a teenager after suggesting his death was connected to the use of nitrous oxide.

After the death of Alistair Calvert, 18, in July, the Metropolitan Police Service initially suggested his death was believed to have been connected to the use of nitrous oxide and alcohol.

During a radio interview, the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe,was discussing the use of nitrous oxide and whether it should be outlawed, and referred to Alistair's death as a "terrible outcome".

A post-mortem examination has since concluded he died of natural causes.

Bexley Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe said: "Our sympathies go out to the family of 18-year-old Alistair Calvert - previously referred to as 'Ally' - from Sidcup who tragically died of natural causes in hospital on Sunday 26 July."

He said police officers and London Ambulance Service went to Wolvercote Road, Bexley the day before and found Alistair suffering from a cardiac arrest.

"Despite the best efforts of my officers and attending paramedics he sadly could not be saved and died in hospital a few hours later."

A post mortem examination held at Princess Royal University Hospital on July 28 found he died of natural causes.

Mr Boothe said: "Any suggestion that his death was in any way connected with the use of alcohol or nitrous oxide is completely false. Our thoughts and prayers are with Alistair's family at this difficult time."

He said the suggestion in the initial statement to media that the death may have been connected with the ingestion of nitrous oxide and alcohol had proved to be false and he had apologised to the family for the distress this had caused.

All subsequent press statements, including the detailed statement offered a few hours later, did not include this suggestion. Furthermore, there was no foundation in reports that the party Alistair had attended was in anyway connected to his death.

"In addition, the Commissioner has met with the family to extend his condolences, and in recognition of the distress caused to Alistair's family.

"No inaccurate coverage should be allowed to tarnish the memory of Alistair. He deserves to be remembered for the fine, upstanding member of the community that he was."

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "I was incredibly moved when meeting Alistair's family last week during which they told me about their positive involvement with cardiac awareness since Alistair's death. This is a testament to their strength of character at a very difficult time.

"On behalf of the Met I extended my condolences to the family and apologised for upset caused by the statements we made about Alistair's death."

The family said: "Following the recent death of our son, grandson and brother Alistair Calvert, known as Ally to his family and friends, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support that we have received since his sudden passing.

"As a family, we have always been aware that Alistair did not take nitrous oxide nor excessive alcohol at a party on the night that he died. We were also advised, following his post mortem examination, that his death was due to an undiagnosed significantly enlarged heart which caused sudden arrhythmia death syndrome. Any reference that Alistair's death was due to nitrous oxide is completely false.

"Chief Superintendent Boothe, Bexley Borough Commander, has visited our family and discussed the incorrect information released to the press on the night that Alistair died; he has advised that the police made a mistake regarding the false information that was given and he has apologised for this error."

They had also met the Commissioner, who expressed his apologies for his comment.

"The subsequent harassment that our family and friends of Alistair were subjected to by the media, has caused significant distress and we hope that once the truth regarding Alistair's death has been reported then all links connecting him to nitrous oxide will be removed.

"Collectively a memorial set up by the family and the #AllysBigHeart campaign started by Alistair's friends, have raised almost £8,000 for the charity CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young.

"We will continue to raise awareness for the need for routine heart screening in young people in a bid to help other families not having to face the same tragic circumstances that we have."