Police told man was suicidal

STEVE DOWNES A man was found dead five days after being released from police custody - despite repeated warnings from his wife to police and mental health officials that he would kill himself, an inquest heard yesterday.

STEVE DOWNES

A man was found dead five days after being released from police custody - despite repeated warnings from his wife to police and mental health officials that he would kill himself, an inquest heard yesterday.

Lee Marsh, 42, died of an overdose of morphine and carbamazepine at his home at Bawburgh Road, Easton, near Norwich, on May 21, 2005.

The Norwich inquest heard that he was discovered on his bed with medication all around him.

On May 16 he had been arrested and held at Bethel Street police station overnight after assaulting his wife, Anita, and threatening a policeman with a shovel.

The inquest heard that, despite a previous suicide attempt and years of medication and mental health issues, forensic medical examiner Dr Harilal Kalaria chose not to examine Mr Marsh in person while he was at the police station.

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Instead, he gave permission to the police to return to him a cocktail of prescribed drugs. After being charged in connection with the incident, he was allowed to return to his home with his tablets on May 17. His wife had moved in with her parents for her own safety.

Earlier in the hearing, independent expert Dr Wilks said the decision by Dr Kalaria not to see Mr Marsh before administering the medication was a "failure to provide basic medical care".

During two hours' summing up the inquest so far, which has lasted for eight days, coroner William Armstrong also told the jury that the decision to administer one of the drugs without a face-to-face examination was "against the code of conduct".

The inquest heard "Jekyll and Hyde" Mr Marsh was arrested after a violent altercation sparked by Mrs Marsh making a "comment" to her husband while he was driving their car.

When they arrived home, the inquest heard, he pulled her hair, smacked her round the face, punched her in the stomach and pushed her to the ground.

Mrs Marsh called police, but before they arrived she was again slapped and punched. When police arrived, an "angry and aggressive" Mr Marsh threatened one of the officers with a shovel before being arrested.

In his summing up, Mr Armstrong said a number of police officers and an "appropriate adult", who was present during Mr Marsh's police interview, had con-cluded he was "not suicidal".

Mr Armstrong sent the jurors out for just over an hour to consider their verdict. They will continue their deliberations today.

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