The family of a man who died hours after his arrest by South Wales Police said the “light he brought into our lives will never dim”. Mohamud Hassan, 24, died on the evening of January 9, 2021, after being found unresponsive at a flat at Newport Road, Cardiff.

On Monday, April 15, at the first day of a three-week inquest to determine the cause of his death, a jury hearing heard how Mr Hassan had been arrested at around 9.40pm on Friday, January 8 for an alleged breach of the peace at a private address at Newport Road, before he was conveyed to Cardiff Bay Police Station where he remained until around 8.20am the following morning.

Senior coroner for south Wales central Graeme Hughes told the jury how Mr Hassan “attended various locations thereafter until making his way to an address on Newport Road in Cardiff”. “It’s believed he remained there with others and ‘chilled out and smoked cannabis that afternoon’,” Mr Hughes said.

“At 5pm it is alleged he told the same friend he was feeling unwell and he was going to sleep. At 10pm the same friend went to wake him. He found him unconscious and stiff. He listened to his chest and he believed he could hear a heartbeat.”

The hearing heard that at 10.29pm a paramedic from the Welsh Ambulance Service arrived at the scene and pronounced Mr Hassan as deceased at 10.56pm, adding in their notes that they believed Mr Hassan to have been dead for some time. A post-mortem examination was carried out in the following days but could not determine a medical cause of death.

Mr Hassan’s death led to a series of protests outside Cardiff Bay Police Station in the following months. But in November the Independent Office of Police Misconduct (IOPC) “did not find that the time spent in custody was a contributory factor in his death”.

Hundreds of people protested on the streets of Cardiff following Mohamud's death
Mr Hassan’s death led to a series of protests outside Cardiff Bay Police Station in the following months
A protester outside Cardiff Bay police station on the fourth day of protests in January 2021
Despite vehement protests and calls for 'justice' in the days following his death, the IOPC determined that Mr Hassan's death was not contributed to by his time in custody during the previous day

On the first day of the inquest on Monday, the first of 28 witnesses to give evidence, Dr Simon Braybrook, who was Mr Hassan’s GP at Butetown Health Centre, told the court Mr Hassan had a medical history including mental health issues and ADHD, which he’d been diagnosed with while in police custody in the summer of 2020, although the practice had not seen Mr Hassan at all - conducting their appointments with him via phone calls due to the Covid pandemic.

Dr Braybrook explained how on August 17, 2020, Mr Hassan’s aunt spoke for him during a phone appointment with the practice with a locum doctor. She told the doctor that he was not eating, sleeping, he had been “very paranoid” and that he was “getting frustrated and falling out with people”.

The court heard how Mr Hassan, who is originally from Hillingdon in west London, had been living with his aunt in Cardiff in the same house as her husband, her three children and his nan. Dr Braybrook explained how Mr Hassan had not received any medication for ADHD since leaving custody around a month before that appointment. Mr Hassan’s aunt told the GP he’d been smoking around two to three grams of cannabis every day and that he suffered with “anxiety and distress”.

The practice organised for Mr Hassan to have an appointment with the community mental health team in October 2020, but the practice received a letter in November 2020 informing them Mr Hassan had not attended. Counsel for the inquest, Alex West, asked Dr Braybrook whether a new appointment was made, but Dr Braybrook explained how community mental health team policy is to discharge the patient if they don’t attend the first appointment.

Other than correspondence received by the GP practice from an A&E department on December 11, 2020 relating to Mr Hassan falling over and banging his face, in which he suffered a lacerated lip and cracked teeth, there was no other indication the practice had any involvement with Mr Hassan before his death.

In a statement read out to the court on behalf of the Hassan family by Harriet Short, counsel for the family, they said the “light he brought into our lives will never dim”. The eldest of five siblings, they said he was dedicated to family and would “attend all family gatherings no matter how big or small”.

They told of how he was a “happy-go-lucky child who told goofy jokes” and enjoyed spending most school holidays in Wales with his aunt and cousins. “He loved spending time with his family and enjoyed a special connection with his grandmother,” they said. “His grandmother died in December 2020 and this had a profound effect on him.”

They explained how he was also particularly popular with the younger members of the family who he enjoyed entertaining with his “good sense of humour”. They added: “His absence is felt deeply. Though he might be gone, the light he brought into our lives will never dim.”

Alan Payne represents South Wales Police, Christopher Rees represents an officer connected to Mr Hassan's time in custody, Rebecca Hinton appears on behalf of the IOPC, and Sophie Ashford appears for Mitie. The inquest continues.