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Police did not breach standards when Maidstone man died in custody after swallowing bag of cocaine, says IOPC report

By William Janes

Officers who arrested a man who died in a police station after swallowing a bag of cocaine did not breach standards of professional behaviour, according to an independent report published today.

Carl Maynard, 29, was arrested at his home in Lincoln Road, Shepway, near Maidstone in October, 2017.

After forcing entry to his home to arrest him on suspicion of assaulting his partner, officers saw him put his fingers in his mouth and gag.

Carl Maynard died after swallowing a bag of cocaine
Carl Maynard died after swallowing a bag of cocaine

However, he explained he was pressing on swelling in his throat to relieve pain and police said they believed he did not swallow anything.

He was taken to Tonbridge Police Station, instead of a hospital, where he collapsed.

Paramedics performed CPR but Mr Maynard was pronounced dead.

A referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and an investigation was into the incident was completed in August 2018.

Tonbridge Police Station
Tonbridge Police Station

The watchdog concluded that the officers had sufficient grounds to enter Mr Maynard’s home and carry out the arrest.

It also said they took steps to try and find out if Mr Maynard had swallowed illegal substances, and that although they could have informed the custody sergeant more swiftly of the possibility drugs had been ingested, that this did not constitute a breach of standards of behaviour.

The IOPC advised Kent Police the officers receive 'management action' about the use of certain legal powers to enter a property, and also that two officers be reminded about correct use of body worn cameras.

As a result the force has made changes to its policy regarding people in custody who may have swallowed drugs.

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

IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: “The death of Mr Maynard is tragic and my sympathies are with his family and friends and all involved.

“Our investigation gathered evidence that suggested the officers repeatedly asked if Mr Maynard had swallowed drugs, and that during the arrest and transportation he did not show any signs of ill health.

"Upon arrival at Tonbridge Custody Suite, the officers could have informed the sergeant that they had concerns Mr Maynard may have swallowed a substance, but this was not something we felt could be considered to be a breach of professional standards.

“I am pleased that Kent Police accepted a learning recommendation we made regarding their standard operating procedure to bring it in line with national policy."

Jurors at Mr Maynard's inquest made their own judgment, which was slightly at odds with the IOPC after four days of hearing evidence.

His family said they were "pleased" with the outcome.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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