Neglect contributed to death of epileptic man restrained in police van

Duncan Tomlin
Duncan Tomlin

source: Shropshire Star
published: 9 April 2019

Neglect contributed to the death of an epileptic man after he was restrained face down in a police van five years ago, an inquest jury has found. Duncan Tomlin, 32, died in hospital two days after he fell unconscious while being detained during a struggle in Haywards Heath in July 2014.

Mr Tomlin, originally from Oxfordshire, was wrestled to the ground, sprayed with an incapacitant and arrested after punching an officer in the face.

He was handcuffed behind his back, placed in leg and thigh restraints and held face down on the floor before being carried into a police van with his legs curled up behind him.

Officers continued to restrain him face down on the floor in the van before he collapsed.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) twice decided not to prosecute the Sussex Police officers involved over the death and four were cleared of allegations of gross misconduct at a force disciplinary hearing.

A jury of six women and four men returned a narrative conclusion at West Sussex Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, finding the medical cause of his death was “cardio respiratory failure due to both restraint in a prone position and the effects of cocaine and methadone”.

They said there was “no urgency” by officers to move Mr Tomlin, adding: “Duncan should have been moved on to his side earlier.”

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