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Kingsley Burrell's restraint removal 'shocking and alarming'

RESTRAINED: Kingsley Burrell

A STAFF NURSE at a mental health intensive care unit told an inquest jury how he found police methods of removing restraints from patient Kingsley Burrell both “alarming and shocking.”

Richard Lucas described how one of the four police officers “knelt on Kingsley’s back between his shoulder blades” in a massive struggle to remove handcuffs and leg restraints in the unit’s seclusion room.

Mr Lucas said the officers were punching Kingsley’s thighs “with a lot of force” while also using the butt of a police baton.

“These were methods that I had never seen before – they were alarming and shocking,” said Mr Lucas, who had been a staff nurse on Caffra Ward at the Oleaster mental health unit for almost three years.

Coroner Louise Hunt at Birmingham’s Coroner’s Court asked him if Kingsley was saying anything. He replied that he never heard his voice, which surprised him.

“The main noise I heard was the mattress squeaking as the officers were struggling with Kingsley. They were puffing and panting and sweating.”

The process had taken between seven and eight minutes – much longer than expected.

Mr Lucas said police asked him and a colleague to remove the restraints but he deferred the task to the officers, as neither had any training in mechanical restraint.

Mr Lucas revealed earlier that there had been “Chinese whispers” surrounding the imminent arrival of 29-year-old Kingsley to the Oleaster Unit after he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

“We heard all sorts of things,” he told the inquest. “There had been dogs, Tasers, someone had been injured, but we found out since that not all of that was true.”

Ms Hunt asked Mr Lucas what was his reaction when he saw Kingsley being wheeled in on a trolley with a blanket over his head.

He said: “I heard one of my colleagues ask about the blanket and one of the ambulance men said it was there because he had been spitting but it would come off afterwards.”

When asked, Mr Lucas said he had known for the past two years that it was current policy to make sure patients’ faces were never covered in order to monitor them properly.

Once Kingsley was alone and unrestrained in the seclusion room and Mr Lucas had locked the door, the coroner asked him whether he looked through the viewing window.

He said that the bed had moved slightly and Kingsley was lying face down on the soft mattress with the blanket still on his head.

He said: “I assumed the blanket had come off with all the movement when the restraints were removed. It was just draped over his head.”

Ms Hunt asked if he was concerned about this and he said one of his colleagues said could they see Kingsley breathing. Mr Lucas said he could see his back rise as he lay on the mattress.

Mr Lucas said he heard Kingsley asking for the blanket to be taken off once he was in the seclusion room, but said no one took it off.

He said: “There was no bravado. Everyone was aware that it had been a serious situation. It had been a nasty restraint.”

Karon Monaghan, representing the mothers of Kingsley’s children, asked Mr Lucas if “alarm bells had not rung that it might be a medical emergency” when Kingsley was making no noise and no voluntary movements, despite having seen his back rise once.

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

The case continues.

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