Cops not to blame
A massive cocaine overdose killed a man who became ill in custody at Motherwell police station.
Now a sheriff has cleared police officers of any blame after a fatal accident inquiry.
A pathologist told the inquiry the amount of cocaine taken by Steven Chesney was the highest she’d ever seen.
Sheriff Douglas Brown recorded that Mr Chesney died of cocaine intoxication and rejected a suggestion by the dead man’s family that officers were negligent in not getting him to hospital sooner.
Sheriff Brown stated: “It appeared fairly obvious from the evidence that, given the exceptionally high dose of cocaine and the difficulty in treating cocaine intoxication, there was no realistic possibility of survival.”
Dad of one Mr Chesney, 33, became ill after officers detained him for brandishing a machete near his home in Biggar Road, Cleland.
Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Julia Bell told the inquiry: “In 10 years of doing drug- related postmortem examinations this was the highest level of cocaine I’ve seen. It was exceptionally high.”
P ro f e s s o r Micha e l Eddleston, a renowned expert on clinical toxicology, said it was unlikely that Mr Chesney would have been saved had he been taken to hospital sooner.
The inquiry heard he was arrested near his home shortly before 6am on May 1, 2016, and taken to Motherwell police station.
Police said he was fine until they arrived at the station. Professor Eddleston said that, from viewing CCTV, it was clear the prisoner “did not look well”.
Asked by procurator fiscal Eileen Beadsworth if Mr Chesney could have been saved had he been taken directly to hospital, he replied: “It’s very unlikely. I’ve never seen such a concentration of cocaine in a living patient.”
The inquiry was told that Mr Chesney had begged for medical help as officers brought him to the station.
A sound expert claimed to hear him mumbling on CCTV that he was ill.
The inquiry heard that the custody sergeant then decided Mr Chesney was in such a state he should be taken to hospital.
He died there at 7.12am.