Duncan Tomlin inquest - Boy saw man pinned down by police and screaming after ‘Taser’

An epileptic man who died after being arrested in Haywards Heath was seen to be pinned down in the street and then carried into a police van.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 1:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 2:10 pm
The incident happened near the junction of Wood Ride and Ryecroft in Haywards Heath. Picture: Google Streetview

A 15-year-old boy said he saw a ‘bright flashing light’ that might have been a Taser, after which a man screamed.

Residents of Wood Ride in Haywards Heath told an inquest today that they heard the man ‘screaming’ and looked out their windows to see a ‘kind of struggle’.

Storm Croydon, who lived nearby, said she realised ‘something had happened’ and saw police officers jump into their cars and drive off ‘really quickly’ from the scene.

An inquest into Duncan's death is taking place

Duncan Tomlin, 32, from Burgess Hill, died in July 2014 following his arrest. An inquest into his death is taking place at Centenary House in Crawley.

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Neighbours hear sounds of a struggle

Resident Julie Faria said she was woken up that night by noise from outside and looked out her bedroom window to see what was happening.

She told the inquest: “It sounded like a lot of shouting and swearing.

“I saw a man lying on the ground. There seemed to be a lot of struggling going on.”

Mrs Faria said the restrained man was making very loud ‘groaning sounds’, as if he was in pain.

The inquest heard that two officers were on top of the man, one on his legs and one towards his upper torso.

She saw one of her neighbours – a man – come out of his house and speak to the officers.

“He was saying to the man to calm down. He had been positioned between the two officers.”

Witness: 'I saw a bright light and the man screamed'

Peter Warrington – who was 15 at the time – said he heard a man ‘screaming’ and looked out his window.

He described seeing a man being restrained on the ground.

He added: “I saw a bright flashing light and when it did the man screamed.

“It thought it might have been a Taser.”

Witness: 'Suddenly it was like something had happened'

Fellow Wood Ride resident Mrs Croydon said there was ‘quite a crowd’ of police officers around the restrained man, who she remembers lying on the edge of the pavement.

She told the inquest that ‘five or six’ officers were involved in moving the man to the police van, and that he was struggling as they did so.

The van began to drive off but then stopped, the inquest jury heard.

Mrs Croydon said: “Suddenly it was like something had happened.

“[Police officers] jumped in their cars. Two or three police cars suddenly just went off up our road really quickly.”

Police seemed in control of the situation

Asked about the conduct of the police officers, Mrs Croydon said they seemed in control of the situation.

“They whole thing seemed like they knew what they were doing.”

She told the inquest that she saw absolutely nothing of concern.

The inquest continues.