Father of Burgess Hill man who died after being arrested tells of family’s sadness

The father of a Burgess Hill man who died while in police custody said he looked like he had ‘been through the wars’ when he saw him at hospital before he died, an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 1:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 5:26 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.

His father, Paul Tomlin, who lives in Woodstock, Bladon, spoke of the moment he received a call from the police advising him that his son, who suffered from epilepsy, was in hospital.

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

He told the inquest: “I received a call from the police saying I should ring the hospital and talk to a consultant and that there had been a drugs related incident.

“I spoke to a consultant and she said we really should come in and be with him. It sounded very serious, so I got as many family members to go together and see him. My daughter flew down from Scotland.

“When we got there the consultant was trying to be gentle with us, but it was obvious he wasn’t going to recover.

“I asked her if his injuries were consistent with a seizure but she was concerned that they were not.

The scene of the police incident. Picture: Steve Robards

“We could see he had grazes on his face and legs. He looked like he had been through the wars.”

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Mr Tomlin said Duncan’s death has had a ‘huge impact’ on him and his family.

“There is always one person missing,” he told the inquest.

“We know what happened but we don’t quite know why things happened the way they did.”

The inquest heard that Duncan was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was a teenager after he started suffering from seizures.

When he suffered a seizure, which could last ten to 15 minutes, he would not know what was going on and would fall to the floor. He frequently had to go to hospital.

The inquest heard how he would then go into a ‘post-seizure state’ – which to an average person could be mistaken for being intoxicated. He would become aggressive and violent which was ‘extremely traumatic’ for his family.

His father, Mr Tomlin, said: “It is a mix of terror and fear and shock. It doesn’t matter really how many times you see it, it is still quite shocking.”

Duncan was hardworking and his father could never remember him being without a job. But his jobs would become challenging due to his epileptic fits, but he never wanted to be treated differently, the inquest heard.

The inquest continues.