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Monday, 06 July 2015

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Officer feared Barrow man was danger to him

A CONSTABLE who shocked a dad with a Taser less than two hours before he died told an inquest he did it to protect his own safety.

PC Kevin Milby was giving evidence to an inquest into the death of bodybuilder Dale Burns, 27, who died after the weapon was used on him in Barrow.

PC Milby was one of four officers called to the dad-of-two’s flat in Hartington Street on the evening of August 16, 2011, after police were told he had damaged the bathroom of the property and was threatening to harm himself.

PC Milby said, when they arrived at the flat at about 6.38pm, the officers found Mr Burns agitated and topless in his living room.

“He had no shirt on and had a pair of dark grey tracksuit bottoms on that appeared to be soaking wet,” he told the hearing.

“Immediately I could tell he was under the influence of drugs as his eyes were rolling back into the back of his head.”

Although Mr Burns was able to tell him he had taken a gram of a drug named “madcat”, PC Milby thought he was having trouble communicating.

“He was very twitchy and very jerky,” he said.

“He was picking items up off the ground and appeared to be scared by them.”

PC Milby asked for an ambulance to be called, but when paramedics arrived on the scene he decided they should not come into the living room as Mr Burns could have been a danger to them.

He said Mr Burns began throwing items out of the window before advancing towards him.

“He had both his fists clenched and he was approaching towards me,” PC Milby said.

“Due to his demeanour and due to the fact he was approaching me aggressively with his fists clenched it was my opinion he formed a danger to my personal safety.”

When Mr Burns was eight feet away, PC Milby discharged his X26 50,000 volt Taser without warning, hitting him in the chest.

Although Mr Burns fell to the floor, he continued to struggle as two other officers tried to cuff him.

PC Milby said as they were struggling to bring Mr Burns under control he made the decision to shock him another three times with the Taser, all within a minute.

Mr Burns was also sprayed with PAVA spray in the face.

Despite this he was still struggling and “thrashing around” as he was carried downstairs and put in the back of a waiting police van.

The inquest heard, while he was being carried down the stairs, his tracksuit bottoms came off and he headbutted a newel post a number of times.

At around 7pm Mr Burns was driven to Furness General Hospital by police, where he went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at 8.41pm.

PC Milby told the inquest that before August 16 he had encountered Mr Burns once before on June 29, 2010, when he arrested him in the woods near the Thorncliffe playing fields after he stole his mother’s car.

On this occasion Mr Burns was not aggressive, although he was agitated and also appeared to have been taking drugs.

However, PC Milby said another officer had told him about an incident when PAVA spray had to be used on Mr Burns in Barrow and it had still taken a number of officers to bring him under control.

Mr David Lock, representing Mr Burns’ children Ethan, three, and Honor, five, suggested this had affected the way PC Milby approached the incident.

However, PC Milby said: “It was part of my background information but not what I based my decisions on.”

Mr Lock said it was “ludicrous” that Mr Burns had been “denied access” to treatment by the paramedics.

He said Mr Burns had not been violent up until that point and was “relatively calm” when they arrived, meaning he could have been safely treated.

He argued that instead of using the Taser, the police on the scene had the option of leaving him alone to recover from the effects of the drugs.

“The consequence of taking control of the situation was to inflict serious harm on Mr Burns,” he said.

However, PC Milby said in his opinion it would not have been safe to leave Mr Burns on his own.

The inquest, which began on Monday, is expected to last until February 8.

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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