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‘Restraint a key factor’ in Kingsley Burrell’s death

INQUEST: Kingsley Burrell

KINGSLEY BURREL’S death was due to a multitude of factors, but the restraint and his struggle against that restraint were “key and relevant” issues in his death, pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton told the jury at his inquest.

Dr Hamilton, along with fellow Home Office pathologist Dr Nathaniel Carey, explained that while they both agreed on the main factors which had led to the 29-year-old’s death, the ultimate cause was the jury’s decision using the evidence they had been given during the four-week inquest.

The case is made more complex by the amount of varying evidence surrounding whether and how long Kingsley was left prone – lying face down – while handcuffed behind his back wearing leg restraints.

There is also the other crucial issue of whether his face was covered by a blanket or sheet, for how long, whether it was tight and whether moisture from Kingsley’s own breathing would have made the material less ‘breathable.’

The inquest heard how the father-of-three died from a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain following a cardiac arrest, which in turn was probably caused by his deteriorating respiratory rate.

Dr Hamilton explained that Kingsley was experiencing an acute behavioural disturbance as he was transferred from the Mary Seacole mental health unit to a seclusion room at the Oleaster mental health unit via A&E at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

He said: “We feel that it is reasonable to say if he had not been acutely behaviourably disturbed, then the sequence of events could not have occurred.”

Dr Hamilton added that Kingsley’s system was showing signs of muscle breakdown due to him struggling repeatedly against the restraints, which in turn made his blood more acidic and reduced the oxygen content in his blood.

When asked by coroner Louise Hunt about Kingsley’s spiralling respiratory rate, Dr Hamilton said this would probably not have caused a sudden collapse, but a gradual deterioration towards death.

Both pathologists said they found it difficult to make a decision on whether Kingsley’s face was covered due to the poor quality of CCTV images and conflicting evidence from witnesses.

But Dr Carey told Ms Hunt that if there had been a tight covering over Kingsley’s face immediately before his cardiac arrest in the seclusion room at the Oleaster unit, then this could be considered as the main cause of death. He said: “This could be an over riding issue.”

Earlier the inquest at Birmingham Coroner’s Court had heard via Skype from Dr Yin Chen Christian Chui, a forensic psychiatric doctor who is now practising in Hong Kong. At the time of Kingsley’s death in March 2011 he was called to assess him at the Oleaster unit not long after he had been installed in the seclusion room.

But instead of assessing Kingsley, he ended up assisting with trying to get Kingsley’s heart beating again as there were no signs of him breathing.

Dr Chui told of how one of the defibrillator pads was missing in the first resuscitation bag, meaning staff had to find another, but using the pads they did get Kingsley’s pulse back.

When asked if there was anything over Kingsley’s head or face, Dr Chui said he could not recall if it was covering his head, but said he saw what he thought was a towel very close to Kingsley’s head.

Kingsley died in March 2011 following contact with four police officers and six NHS staff. Last year the Crown Prosecution Service said they were “insufficient evidence” to charge anyone with his death.

The case continues.

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