Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Drunk' Man Died in Police Station Cell after Seizures

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Drunk' Man Died in Police Station Cell after Seizures

Article excerpt

Byline: KATIE DICKINSON Reporter katie.dickinson@reachplc.com

A"SENSITIVE, kind and funny" dad-of-three who fell into a downward spiral of homelessness and alcoholism died in a police cell just one month after moving to Newcastle for a fresh start, an inquest heard.

Mark Gordon Needham died at Forth Banks Northumbria Police station on July 23, 2015 - six hours after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly outside a sheltered accommodation block in Benwell.

An inquest heard the 52-year-old, who had a history of alcohol addiction, homelessness and ill health, was not on "continuous observation" but numerous "welfare checks" were carried out on him.

However, Mr Needham suffered four unobserved seizures while in his cell and was found unresponsive at around 3pm.

He was pronounced dead by paramedics at 3.48pm, the inquest at Newcastle Civic Centre heard.

Mark Gordon Needham On the first day of the hearing, senior coroner Karen Dilks told the jury: "I anticipate the issues will be whether he was drunk and incapable at the time of his arrest, the nature and frequency of the welfare checks that were undertaken, the level of care and whether his death was avoidable."

The inquest heard Mr Needham was arrested outside a sheltered accommodation block in Newcastle's West End after several residents saw him appearing to go through the bins while looking "very intoxicated".

Kevin Murphy, a charge nurse with district nursing team, said he had been called to see a patient when he arrived and saw a man on the stairs.

Mr Murphy told the inquest he called the police after seeing the man "had his pants around his ankles and was exposed".

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Mr Needham being supported by two officers at the police station custody desk before being taken to a cell and put on a bed.

Further clips showed two officers then come in, move his legs onto the bed and put a pillow under his head. …

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