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Medical decisions probed at Barrow dad's inquest

MEDICAL staff would “ideally” have been kept on hand to help treat a dad who died after being tasered, rather than leaving him to be taken to hospital by police, an inquest heard.

At the inquest into the death of Dale Burns, 27, PC Rachael Sheppard was subjected to intense questioning about decisions taken regarding his medical care.

Dad-of-two Mr Burns died on August 16, 2011, after being driven to Furness General Hospital in Barrow by officers who arrested him at his Hartington Street flat.

PC Sheppard was one of four police officers who went to the property following reports he had damaged its bathroom and was potentially at risk of self-harming.

Earlier in the week, other officers told the jury Mr Burns was tasered and sprayed with PAVA spray as they were concerned he would attack them.

Mr Burns had been acting in an extremely agitated and erratic way and told officers he had taken a gram of a drug named “Madcat”. Although an ambulance was called, Mr Burns was never given any treatment at the scene and the staff left.

Counsel for the inquest, Mr Jonathan Hough, told PC Sheppard statements from the North West Ambulance Service said police had told them “they were not required”.

However, PC Sheppard said she only recalled them being told it was not safe for them to treat Mr Burns due to his behaviour.

PC Sheppard said: “When I spoke to ambulance staff I said they could not go in as Dale Burns could be violent. I can’t recall saying anything further to that.

“If it has been misinterpreted I do not know. In my mind I did not intend that I wanted them to leave. In ideal circumstances I would have been able to say ‘stay here’.”

Mr David Lock, representing Mr Burns’ two children, Ethan, three, and Honor, five, asked PC Sheppard: “Do you consider the ambulance service played any part in any decisions concerning Dale’s welfare?”

She replied: “No, I don’t.”

The inquest heard it was PC Sheppard who drove the police van that took Mr Burns to hospital, taking a route of 3.3 miles via Ormsgill – taking around 10 minutes – rather than a shorter route via Abbey Road, which would have been just under two miles.

Mr Lock said evidence would be heard stating it took as little as five minutes to drive via Abbey Road. PC Sheppard said she believed the route she took would have been faster, or have taken the same amount of time as going via Abbey Road.

Mr Lock asked: “Is the fact you took this man by the long route when this wasn’t necessary, and over speed bumps when that wasn’t necessary, a reflection of how you felt about Mr Burns?”

PC Sheppard replied: “My intention was to get him to hospital as soon as possible.”

After arriving at hospital at about 7.15pm, Mr Burns went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at 8.41pm.

The inquest continues.

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 did......it'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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