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Inquest into death of Maidstone man who died in police custody ends

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An inquest into the death of a man who died in police custody after swallowing a bag of cocaine has come to a close.

Carl Maynard, 29, collapsed while having his finger prints taken at Tonbridge Police Station but despite the efforts of officers and paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem report revealed that he had a plastic bag in his stomach and a level of cocaine in his blood similar to that of drug smugglers who have had packages burst inside them.

Tonbridge Police Station. (11804691)
Tonbridge Police Station. (11804691)

The death sparked an investigation by the Independent Officer for Police Conduct (IOPC), then the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). That report is due to be published in the coming days.

The painter/ decorator was arrested on Friday, October 13 2017 after a report from a neighbour that around two weeks before he had punched his girlfriend, Chrissie Colgate, in the front garden of their home in Lincoln Road in Shepway near Maidstone.

Police forced entry to the house after no-one answered the door and, after reaching the top of the stairs, one of the arresting officers saw Mr Maynard put his fingers down his throat and gag.

The officers asked him repeatedly if he had swallowed anything but he said 'no.'

Outside the house in a police car he was again asked if he had swallowed any drugs as he would need to be taken to hospital but he explained he was recovering from a cold and was pressing on swelling in his throat to relieve pain - an answer the officers accepted.

Throughout proceedings lawyers representing police and the family argued over whether police had rightfully entered the home, if, when, and why he had swallowed a bag of cocaine, whether police truly believed him, and if his life could have been saved.

Over four days the jury has heard evidence from officers involved, medical experts, and family members to determine the circumstances around his death and today delivered their conclusion.

Carl Maynard's inquest was held at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone
Carl Maynard's inquest was held at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone

Speaking to the court, the jury's foreperson said: "Carl Maynard swallowed a package of cocaine with the intention of hiding it from police officers.

"He most likely swallowed it on realising that the officers had entered his home.

"The officers entered his home with good intentions for the wellbeing of the occupants. However, they did not enter with the intention of saving life and limb.

"Carl Maynard was arrested by the police on suspicion of assault.

"The arresting police officers were plainly suspicious that Carl Maynard had swallowed something and told Carl that they would have taken him to hospital if he had but then accepted his account that he had not swallowed anything, did not seek medical treatment, and took him to Tonbridge Police Station.

"The possibility of successful medical treatment was highly unlikely. However, the chances of Carl's survival would have been higher in a hospital than in police custody. Failing to take Carl directly to hospital from his home represents a missed opportunity to increase Carl's chances of survival."

Multiple members of the jury were emotionally moved, crying at the end of the conclusion.

Closing the hearing, coroner James Dillon turned to the family and said: "The thoughts of all of us in the coroner's service are with you and we offer you our condolences for the loss of carl."

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