Burgess Hill man who died after arrest was ‘screaming in pain’ when restrained

A friend of a Burgess Hill man who died after being arrested said he was ‘screaming in pain’ when he was restrained by officers, an inquest was told.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 9:51 am
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 4:56 pm

Duncan Tomlin, 32, died after being arrested at an address in Ryecroft, Haywards Heath, in July 2014.

A jury inquest into his death has started this week at Crawley Coroner’s Court.

The inquest heard on Tuesday (March 12), how Duncan, who had epilepsy, had been chilling and drinking with his girlfriend and two friends on the evening of July 26, 2014, but the ‘pleasant evening turned sour’.

The scene of the police incident in Ryecroft, Haywards Heath.. Photo by Steve Robards

The group had also been taking cocaine and smoking cannabis, the inquest heard.

Jack Foulger, whose house they were at in Ryecroft, Haywards Heath, said Duncan, who had been drinking whiskey and coke, ‘appeared fine’, but when he had some skunk – the most powerful type of cannabis – he became ‘agitated’.

“He left the house and didn’t want to know,” Jack told the inquest.

“I went after him and then he came back – he seemed on edge.

A jury inquest into the death of Duncan Tomlin is being held at Crawley Coroner's Court

“He asked to use my phone, I said I had no credit but I gave it to him anyway, then Daisy gave him her phone, but she didn’t have any credit either.”

Jack said Duncan wanted to ring his girlfriend Ann-marie Botting, who had left the house to meet another friend, Dan.

“He refused to give us back our phones – we had to pull them out of his hands,” said Jack.

“He was quite angry and wanted to know where Ann was, I hadn’t seen him like that before.”

Jack said there was a tussle in the house. Duncan shouted ‘I am going to kill you two – I am’ to Jack and friend Daisy, the inquest heard.

Duncan then went outside and started shouting ’I’m going crazy’ and ‘you might as well kill me’.

Ann came back and tried to calm him down outside the front of the house, the inquest heard. The police then turned up and she got into her car with Jack and Daisy.

Jack said while sitting in the car he saw three to four police officers restrain Duncan on the floor.

He told the inquest: “He was screaming in pain. I’m not sure how you are supposed to restrain people so I wouldn’t be sure what to look for. But he was quite a thin guy, so he couldn’t have been hard to restrain. I thought it was a bit over the top.”

Jack, Ann and Daisy did not get out of the car while Duncan was being restrained, the inquest heard. They then went off to their friend Dan’s.

Jack told the inquest that Duncan was a ‘quiet and shy guy’ who kept himself to himself. He said he had never seen anyone ‘turn like that’ before.

The Sussex Police officers, who were under investigation after Duncan’s death, did not face prosecution, the inquest was told.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said in 2016 that it had reviewed the available evidence against the officers and it was concluded that the case ‘did not meet the evidential test’.

Duncan’s father, Paul Tomlin, said his death has had a ‘huge impact’ on his family.

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The inquest continues.