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Grieving family plan to sue police over death

Parents of Jason Murray, Angela and Stephen standing outside Gravesend Coroner's Court
Parents of Jason Murray, Angela and Stephen standing outside Gravesend Coroner's Court

by Jamie Bullen

A family is planning to take civil action against police after their son died while in their care.

A jury returned a verdict of misadventure into the death of Jason Murray, 34, of The Hive, Northfleet, after an eight-day inquest.

Mr Murray died in June 2009 after he collapsed at Little Brook Hospital in Bow Arrow Lane, Dartford.

He had been taken there by police officers for a mental health assessment after arriving at North Kent Police Station claiming he was being chased.

Pathologist Dr Peter Jerreat said Mr Murray’s death was as a result of alcohol withdrawal while being restrained, circulatory collapse and a brain injury.

The jury also heard Mr Murray had a history of alcohol problems and had hit his head a few days earlier.

At the inquest, representatives of Kent Police, South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) and Little Brook Hospital all gave evidence detailing Mr Murray’s final hours.

Speaking outside the court afterwards, his mother Angela, 54, said: “To be honest it is not what we initially wanted but we have got the best result we could have got and we are delighted.

“We had done our homework and there was nothing surprising to hear in the inquest.

“Jason needed help and he simply didn’t get it.

“We will now look to go forward and take civil matters against the police.”

The inquest heard how Mr Murray was placed in a leg lock by one officer after repeated clashes with police in the assessment suite at the psychiatric hospital.

The 34-year-old collapsed and was taken to Darent Valley Hospital, which has an accident and emergency department, where he died six days later.

The jury ruled the level of restraint used by police officers had contributed to Mr Murray’s death but was reasonable in the circumstances.

Chief Inspector Pete Ayling, responsible for operational policing at North Kent, said in a statement afterwards: “Police officers only use restraint techniques to prevent injury to themselves and others nearby, including the person being restrained.

“On this occasion, a proportional use of force was applied, which the coroner agreed was reasonable and justified.

“Our sympathies are with Mr Murray’s family at what is a very upsetting time for them given these very tragic circumstances.”

Jurors also ruled the amount of time it took to administer oxygen and Mr Murray’s alcohol problems caused a “more than minimal” contribution to his death.

A spokesman for Little Brook Hospital said a review into resuscitation training had taken place as a result of the case.

A spokesman for SECAmb said: “South East Coast Ambulance Service would like to offer its sincerest condolences to Mr Murray’s family at this difficult time.

“We have cooperated fully with the coroner prior to and throughout the inquest and acknowledge his findings.”

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