INQUEST: Man who died in police custody may have been killed by high levels of cocaine and stress

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A man who died in police custody in Stoke-on-Trent may have died from a combination of cocaine and stress of being tasered and bitten by a police dog, an inquest heard.

A jury at Hanley Town Hall heard how Adrian McDonald, 34, of Dalton, Huddersfield had high levels of cocaine and evidence of cannabis and alcohol in his system at the time of his death.

Dr Alexander Kolar, a forensic pathologist, told the jury: “My view was that the reason this individual died was a combination of cocaine usage, a slightly elevated heart muscle but I also considered the role of stress.

“Whatever causes the body to go under stress has consequences and stress is important in the events that took place here.”

Dr Kolar also told the court he found five dog bites, two on Adrian’s right leg and three to his right arm.

The jury were told how the bites from an Alsatian went through the skin, fatty tissues and into muscle.

Family pathologist Dr Peter Cooper, also giving evidence told the court: “It’s not just one thing that caused his death.

“From my level of expertise all I will say is he does not look well (in the back of the police van).

“The effects of a combination of cocaine and stress with stress being the whole incident added up the greater the amount of stress the greater the risk of death.”

The court was also shown footage again from two different body cameras.

This showed Adrian cowering behind the living room door at a property on Audley Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, refusing to leave.

During the footage, the jury heard how Adrian had assaulted PC Cartidge and the police dog.

Radioing the control room, PC Cartidge can be heard saying: “He has repeatedly beaten the police dog over the head with a wooden table quite severely.

“He’s given him a fair old beating to be honest.”

Addressing the jury, Senior Coroner for North Staffordshire Ian Smith detailed how the group of events leading up to when Adrian was placed in the back of the police van would have added to a very stressful situation.

He said: “We have this group of events, the presence of the police and dog, the taser that he would have seen before it was used.

“The dog bites and the use of the taser, the extremity of him being in a room which is dishevelled.

“Police officers standing over him being loud and again signs of paranoia is all going to add to that very stressful situation.”

All witnesses have now been heard and the inquest continues to reach a verdict into Adrian’s death.

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