THE legal charity Inquest is welcoming a ‘highly critical jury verdict’ on the death in custody of Paul Davies.
The jury at the inquest into the death of 42-year-old Paul Davies found that lack of proper police briefing and training contributed to his death
INQUEST commented in a statement: ‘A previous inquest in 2009 had to be stopped for fear of bias, when a member of the jury made a robust condemnation of the police’s actions.
‘The new inquest opened on 21 June before HM Coroner Peter Maddox for Bridgend and the Glamorgan Valleys.
‘Paul Davies died on 28 September 2006 following an incident involving South Wales Police two days earlier on 26 September, when officers executed a search warrant at Paul’s home address.
‘Whilst Paul was under the watch of one of the officers he placed a small plastic bag of amphetamines in his mouth.
‘Officers attempted to get Paul to remove the package from his mouth.
‘The package became lodged in his airway and he collapsed.
‘CPR was carried out and an ambulance was called.
‘Paramedics worked on Paul for a period of time before taking him to Neath Port Talbot Hospital, and he was later transferred to the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend where the blockage was removed as there were no facilities to remove the blockage at Neath Port Talbot.
‘Paul never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 12.25am on 28 September 2006.’
INQUEST continued: ‘The jury were highly critical of the police, finding a “gross failure of the intelligence systems in place at the time”, which led to inadequate briefing of those officers attending the scene.
‘Most seriously, the jury were critical of the lack of training provided to officers for the forced search and control and restraint of a detained person who had placed an item in their mouth.
‘The jury concluded that Paul Davies’ death was contributed to by police neglect.
‘The coroner indicated that he intends to issue a rule 43 report dealing with training for officers in circumstances where a person places an item in their mouth and first aid training for choking situations.
‘His report will be sent to the Chief Constable of South Wales Police, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Ministry of Justice and the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA).’
Gemma Vine, solicitor for Paul Davies’ family, also commented: ‘The family are extremely happy with the verdict and are relieved that they can now move forward as they now have justice for Paul.’
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, remarked: ‘This is not the first time a coroner and jury have commented on the inadequacy of police training following deaths in similar circumstances.
‘It is vital that the issues raised in this case are considered at both a local and national level to ensure others do not die in similarly avoidable circumstances.’
The full text of the jury’s narrative verdict reads: ‘At 12.25am on 28th September 2006 the deceased was pronounced dead at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.
‘On 26th September 2006 between 7.30am and 7.42am the deceased Paul Stephen Davies swallowed a package which became lodged in his airway (at an indeterminate point within this time range) during the execution of a drugs warrant at [HOME ADDRESS REDACTED].
‘The briefing was inadequate due to the gross failure of the intelligence systems in place at the time.
‘There was a lack of training provided to officers for:
‘A) the forced search of the mouth of a detained person in a non-custodial setting;
‘B) the control and restraint of a detained person in circumstances where an item is seen to be placed in the mouth.
‘Paul Stephen Davies was not adequately controlled or monitored in the sitting room when officers arrived at [HOME ADDRESS REDACTED].
‘Appropriate and timely action was taken by officers in seeking medical assistance for Paul Stephen Davies.’
Conclusion: ‘Paul Stephen Davies died as a result of an accident and the cause of death was contributed to by neglect.’