THERE has been a “deliberate attempt” by anonymous police sources to criminalise Sheku Bayoh and justify his death in custody, according to his lawyer Aamer Anwar.

Responding to claims from a police source in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday newspaper, Anwar said it was clear there was an attempt to divert attention away from how Bayoh died in May.

Reports yesterday claimed that police officer Nicole Short, who came into contact with Bayoh on the morning of his death, was suffering from “severe post- traumatic stress” and “severe headaches and a facial palsy.”

The Sun’s source went on to say that the officer, described by the Scottish Police Federation as “petite”, might never return to the force, adding: “She is struggling even to take her dog out for a walk”.

PC Short was expected to stand trial in August accused of obtaining personal data relating to two men from Fife Constabulary’s Crimefile system and the Scottish Intelligence Database for non-policing purposes, but had her trial postponed until December after her lawyers argued she was in a “complicated medical state.”

Anwar said the leaking of “selective parts” of what police sources “claim to be the truth” should be questioned.

The solicitor said: “The family continue to be shocked by the double standard of these so-called police sources. Repeatedly the family are bullied, patronised and expected to remain silent while there is a deliberate attempt to criminalise Sheku Bayoh and justify his death.

“We do not comment on sources other than to say this investigation is not over and it seems that there is a desperate attempt, once again, to divert attention away from the cause of death of Sheku Bayoh.

“The matter is still being investigated. The cause of death is still to be determined. One should look at what is the purpose of these so-called police sources in deliberately leaking selective parts of what they claim to be the truth.

“The truth as far as the family is concerned is that Sheku Bayoh was restrained by several police officers and within 30 seconds was faced down on the ground and lost consciousness and subsequently died.

“His body was covered from top to bottom in injuries and it’s critical that that matter is investigated.”

Bayoh, a gas engineer originally from Sierra Leone, came into contact with the police after officers responded to reports of a man seen brandishing a knife in the early hours of Sunday May 3.

It is believed up to nine officers tackled Bayoh. He was pronounced dead two hours later.

Since the 31-year-old died, a number of sources have been briefing against him, and other briefing against the police officers at the scene that morning.

Pathologist Dr Steven Karch told a newspaper that Bayoh had traces of ecstasy and legal highs in his body. It was also alleged that he was a regular user of steroids which could have brought on heart failure.

The Lord Advocate called for calm last month, saying the “speculation and a running commentary” about the 31-year-old’s death was unhelpful and asked that the Police Investigations and Reviews Commissioner (PIRC), and the Crown, “be allowed to get on with their job.”

A spokesman for the PIRC said: “The independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy on Sunday May 3 is ongoing.

“It would be inappropriate to go into further details during a live investigation.”

The Scottish Police Federation declined to comment last night.