Saturday, 29 August 2015

Jury told of loving Barrow dad’s drug paranoia

A LOVING father and son became increasingly unpredictable as he struggled with drug abuse, an inquest into his death was told.

Barrow man Dale Burns, 27, died on August 16, 2011, after he was tasered four times by police in his Hartington Street flat.

Outlining the facts of the case to the jury, South and East Cumbria deputy coroner Mr Alan Sharp said police were called to Mr Burns’ flat after a woman living on the floor below reported hearing the sound of running water from above and seeing water coming through her ceiling.

She called the landlord’s agent, who went into the flat and forced open the bathroom door, where he found Mr Burns in the bath and saw that a fan had been pulled off the ceiling and the toilet ripped off the wall.

He called the police who arrived at 6.38pm.

Once inside, the four officers encountered Mr Burns, who was sweating and agitated and told them he had taken the drug “Madcat” – prompting them to immediately ring for an ambulance.

The deputy coroner said the officers were talking to Mr Burns and the situation seemed calm and under control until the ambulance arrived.

“It seems clear Dale was made aware they had arrived and he indicated in clear terms that he did not wish to be treated,” the deputy coroner said.

The ambulance left, but Mr Burns became increasingly “agitated and aggressive”, throwing objects out of the window and approaching PC Kevin Milby, who was armed with a Taser.

“After throwing a glass out of the window, Dale turned towards PC Milby and approached him, eyes rolling into the back of his head with fists clenched. The officer stated there was simply no time to issue a warning.” PC Milby discharged the Taser into Mr Burns at 6.50pm, and shocked him another three times within the space of a minute. In between the second and the third blasts from the Taser, Mr Burns was also sprayed with PAVA chemical spray.

Despite this, the officers still struggled to restrain and handcuff Mr Burns, who weighed 18 stone, and carry him downstairs to a waiting police van, which drove him straight to Furness General Hospital in Barrow shortly after 7pm.

The deputy coroner said: “There is CCTV footage showing the inside of the back of the van, which shows Dale naked and struggling to get out of his restraints whilst the journey is taking place. It is very disturbing.”

Once at the hospital, Mr Burns’ condition deteriorated and he suffered a seizure and a cardiac arrest. Despite police and medical staff trying to revive him for nearly 40 minutes, he was pronounced dead at 8.41pm.

Taking the witness stand, Mr Burns’ mother, Donna Rodden, said she had a “fabulous” relationship with her son and told how he had been a loving and caring father to his two children Honor, five, and Ethan, three.

However, she had been aware he was using both “performance enhancing drugs” to help with bodybuilding and other drugs, including “plant food” and “Ivory Wave”.

Mr Burns’ former girlfriends Lisa Wilson and Sarah Keverne told the inquest he had taken steroids, as well as drugs including cocaine and cannabis.

He was also said to have taken Ecstasy during his nights working as a doorman at Barrow nightclubs. Mrs Rodden said between 2010 and 2011 she had noticed her son becoming increasingly “dissatisfied” and “unhappy in the situations he had found himself in”.

She said that Mr Burns had taken her keys and stolen her car in June 2010, before taking alcohol and an overdose of painkillers.

Miss Keverne said her relationship with Mr Burns had broken down after he became increasingly paranoid when on drugs. She said: “He was convinced I was seeing other people behind his back. When he had been taking drugs he was convinced I had been watching him wherever he was taking them.”

However, she said when he had not been taking drugs he was a “lovable rogue” who was fun to be around.

“The downside was the drugs, because otherwise it was perfect. We were happy,” she said.

The inquest is due to continue today and will hear evidence from the officers involved in arresting Mr Burns.

Mr Sharp told the jury the police who were called to his flat on the night he died would not be granted anonymity when they appear in the witness box.

The jury at the inquest in the Council Chamber at the County Hall, Kendal, were also told the hearing was expected to last for three weeks.

Some of the 50 witnesses expected to appear also include experts on police training, medical experts and representatives of the American company that makes Tasers.

Mr Sharp also warned the jury of six men and five women that during the hearing they would be shown “disturbing” and lengthy footage of Mr Burns immediately after he had been arrested and restrained by police.

Have your say

The man had a long history of abusing illegal and then so called 'legal highs' and died because of that. The medical facts are that the taser did not kill him the drugs's very sad indeed and I feel for his family and friends but stop look for fault in the authorities....the inquest was transparent and all the facts know, stop spinning the truth

Posted by E on 15 February 2013 at 11:44

A very sad case of a young life lost for no reason. The media would do better to label this muck "Knocked up in a filthy garage in Amsterdam" rather than "Designer Drugs". It conveys the image of coolness and acceptability, when it is so far from that, and it has cost this poor family their loved one.

Posted by Patience of Job on 11 February 2013 at 15:02

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