Police officer describes ‘panic’ as epileptic man lay dying

A sergeant fought back tears as he told an inquest of the moment an epileptic man lay dying in front of him after being restrained face down in a police van.

Duncan Tomlin fell unconscious while being detained during a struggle in Haywards Heath in July 2014.

The 32-year-old, originally from Oxfordshire, died in hospital two days later.

Sergeant Christopher Glasspool was giving evidence at West Sussex Coroner's Court
Sergeant Christopher Glasspool was giving evidence at West Sussex Coroner’s Court (Steve Parsons/PA)

Five Sussex Police officers have been called to give evidence at his inquest, which continued in Crawley on Thursday.

Sergeant Christopher Glasspool told jurors at West Sussex Coroner’s Court that Mr Tomlin had been “screaming and shouting incoherently” but then fell motionless as he lay face down on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Sgt Glasspool said: “I was getting really concerned for Duncan.

“When I didn’t get a response I knew there was a serious problem.”

In footage of the arrest shown to the jury, the officers could be seen trying to rouse Mr Tomlin and Sgt Glasspool could be heard repeatedly shouting “Dominic” – not at that point knowing his name was Duncan – in a bid to get his attention.

Becoming visibly emotional as he gave evidence, Sgt Glasspool said: “I was starting to panic. I didn’t know what had happened.

“I was getting very distressed. This lad was dying in front of me. The ambulance was too far away.

“I don’t like to think about it. It was so traumatic and everything we did wasn’t working.

“I still remember the day very well, if I’m honest I will never forget it.”

Mr Tomlin had been drinking and had taken drugs before the late-night disturbance and officers restrained him after he ran off.

He was wrestled to the ground by police, sprayed with an incapacitant and arrested after punching an officer in the face.

He was then handcuffed, placed in leg and thigh restraints and held face down on the floor before being carried into a police van with his legs curled up behind him and collapsing.

Sgt Glasspool, who has worked as a police officer for some 17 years, told the inquest: “I don’t like restraining people. I would much rather cooperate and went that way.”

Pcs Jamie Jackson, Daniel Jewell, Russell Watson and Alexander Bennett have also been called to give evidence.

The inquest, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.

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