Inquest concludes police restraint contributed to death of Darren Cumberbatch

  • Mark Gough's report contains CCTV and bodycam footage from the night of the incident.

An inquest jury has concluded that police restraint of a man from Coventry who died days after being arrested contributed to his death.

Darren Cumberbatch died in hospital nine days after being restrained by police in Nuneaton in July 2017.

The 32-year-old had been tasered and repeatedly punched by police at the probation hostel where he was staying before being taken to the George Eliot Hospital in a critically-ill state.

Darren Cumberbatch died in hospital nine days after being detained in 2017. Credit: Family photo

An inquest into his death was told he had been behaving oddly at the McIntyre House probation hostel on July 10, and staff were concerned he may have taken drugs or was suffering a mental disorder.

Police were called and the officers who arrived then called for back up and a taser unit. Officers went into a toilet cubicle to confront Mr Cumberbatch who has been waving a towel rail which had been ripped off a wall.

One of the officers, PC Steven Jones, told the inquest he saw the rail on the floor and fired his taser twice at Mr Cumberbatch and hit him once with his baton.

PC Jones also said he hit Mr Cumberbatch's nose with the flat of the palm of his hand and that another officer, PC Josh Neale, punched Mr Cumberbatch between 10 and 15 times. But PC Neale told the inquest he punched Mr Cumberbatch between three and four times.

When asked at the inquest by Miss Fiona Murphy, the lawyer representing Mr Cumberbatch's family, if he thought the use of force was over the top, PC Jones answered that he did not.

The officer said he'd considered the risks of Mr Cumberbatch having Acute Behavioural Disorder when using the taser and took into account the potential for it to have fatal consequences.

PC Jones admitted to making incorrect statements on police notes after the event - and copying another officer's notes word for word.

Another officer, PC Craig Griffiths, who also used his taser, said he was "95% sure" Mr Cumberbatch was holding the metal rail at the moment he was tasered.

He was accused by Miss Murphy of "making this up" to justify the use of his taser when other officers had testified the railing was on the floor.

PC Griffiths insisted the use of the taser was necessary to protect himself and "others from being attacked with that metal towel rail".

Mr Cumberbatch was pulled from the toilet cubicle and down a corridor by several officers before being restrained and taken by them to the George Eliot hospital.

Mr Cumberbatch was taken to George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton in a critically ill state. Credit: PA

On his arrival to the hospital Mr Cumberbatch was in a critically-ill state with a heart rate of 160 beats per minute and a body temperature above 40 degrees.

He told medical staff he'd taken half a gram of cocaine, some cannabis and alcohol. Blood results showed he was suffering from a drug overdose.

The inquest heard that the cocaine could have triggered Acute Behavioural Disorder in Mr Cumberbatch and that restraining or tasering people with the disorder can prove fatal.

Staff at the hostel had told police they thought Mr Cumberbatch might have taken drugs or was mentally unwell but another officer who was present, PC Jonathan Walker, said that there was never any discussion among the officers about getting an ambulance.

Concluding today (June 25), the jury said that some of the police restraint of Mr Cumberbatch near the toilet and in the hospital car park before his admission "may have been excessive and at times probably avoidable".

The inquest jury reached a narrative conclusion and said his behaviour influenced police’s decision to call for back up, including taser officers.

The judge has asked the National Probation service for more information on how staff are trained.

Warwickshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Richard Moore said: "Our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Cumberbatch as they continue to come to terms with his death.

"Every time our officers answer a call they are going into unpredictable and often dangerous situations. They are trained to make decisions in challenging and dynamic circumstances."

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Moore said the force will have 'appropriate time to carefully consider the inquest outcome'. Credit: Warwickshire Police

He continued: "Following these tragic events we recognise the importance of now taking the appropriate time to carefully consider the inquest outcome and to ensure our officers are prepared to manage all the risks they face in the course of protecting the public.

"We note the jurys’ narrative that some of the restraint used may have been excessive, and that despite attempts to de-escalate the situation, we could have continued to do more.

"We have fully cooperated with the inquest, and with an Independent Office of Police Conduct investigation, and now await publication of their report."

IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: "We are now reviewing our investigation report’s findings following the conclusion of the inquest and the jury’s determinations.

"That will inform our next steps moving forward and we will continue to keep the family updated as well as all those affected."