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Kingsley Burrell inquest: Jury retires to consider verdict

FACT-FINDING INQUIRY: Kingsley Burrell died on March 31, 2011, following contact with four police officers and six NHS staff at two mental health units and the A&E department at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital

THE JURY in the Kingsley Burrell inquest has now retired to consider its verdict after listening to evidence from more than 50 witnesses involved in the complex case over the past five weeks.

Coroner Louise Hunt told the ten-strong jury: “You are the judges of fact in this case and no one else. This is a fact-finding inquiry – it is not a method of apportioning blame or attributing guilt. There is no prosecution, defence or trial.”

Kingsley, a 29-year-old trainee security guard died on March 31, 2011, following contact with four police officers and six NHS staff at two mental health units and the A&E department at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Four days earlier, the father-of-three had called police for help while he was out with his young son claiming that he was about to be attacked.

But officers who arrived at the scene found him to be delusional and restrained him before sectioning him under the Mental Health Act and taking him to a place of safety at the Oleaster mental health unit.

He was later transferred to the Mary Seacole mental health unit in Winson Green where staff called police on 30 March after they claimed Kingsley started behaving aggressively.

He was handcuffed and put in leg restraints for two and a half hours as police transferred him to a seclusion room, via A&E to treat a head wound he had suffered from head butting the floor.

His restraints were finally removed when he entered the seclusion room at the Oleaster unit, where he went into cardiac arrest. Staff attempted to revive him using two sets of defibrillators, the first of which did not have any pads.

He was taken by ambulance back to A&E where he was declared brain stem dead on March 31.

Witnesses from both West Midlands Police and NHS staff have given conflicting evidence on whether Kingsley’s head was covered during part or all of this time to stop him from spitting.

The coroner gave the jury a long questionnaire for them to consider key facts in the case. These included the factors of restraint and what possible role that played in his death, including a facial covering – whether it was used, for how long, whether it was a sheet or a ‘holey’ blanket, and whether it became moist and less breathable from Kingsley’s own breath.

They were asked to consider if the delay in Kingsley receiving medical treatment when he went into cardiac arrest was an important factor. The jury will also consider if there was any neglect.

Ms hunt said that three pathologists had agreed the cause of Kingsley’s death was due to a lack of oxygen to the brain due to cardiac arrest “in a man with an acute behavioural disturbance” following "prolonged restraint and struggling against that restraint”.

Ms Hunt told the jury: “When you go into your deliberation room you need to assess the factual evidence and what part that evidence played before thinking about the cause of death.

“You have the questionnaire to help you but you have to discuss how all the factors fit into the questionnaire. Your decision has to be based on the balance of probabilities and you need to apply that to all of the questions.”

The case continues.

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