Tragic South Shields dad died after falling ill in police custody

Martin Leck sadly died after falling ill at South Shields Police Station.
Martin Leck sadly died after falling ill at South Shields Police Station.

An inquest has got underway into the tragic death of a South Tyneside man after he was taken into police custody.

A jury of seven men and two women were sworn for the inquest of 34-year-old Martin Leck, who died in March 2013 after falling ill at South Shields Police Station

Jurors were told that the father-of-two was the equivalent of seven times over the drink-drive limit at the time of his death.

Home Office pathologist Jennifer Bolton told the inquest that Mr Leck - who was a chronic alcoholic and former heroin addict - had died due to alcohol poisoning.

The inquest heard that Mr Leck had been arrested after swearing at police who had been called to remove him from the home of his partner in Imeary Street after a row.

Mr Leck was found to to be intoxicated and was placed in a 'drunk cell - specially designed for those displaying signs of drunkenness - with regular 15-minute checks carried out on his wellbeing at 8.25pm on the night of his death on Friday, March 22, 2013.

Mr Leck was found slumped motionless on a custody cell bench during a check at 10pm.

Harrowing CCTV footage was shown to jurors of desperate attempts made by dentention officers and a medical examiner to revive him.

Mr Leck was transported to South Tyneside Hospital at about 11pm, where he was pronounced dead at 11.44pm.

Dr Bolton, who carried out a post mortem examination of the deceased, told the jury that she concluded his cause of death was acute alcohol toxicity.

She said the level of alcohol in his system - 572mlg in 100ml of breath - was above the level of between 350 and 400 which can prove fatal.

She said his reaction to the alcohol had caused his breathing to slow, before he stopped breathing, causing a cardiac arrest.

The inquest, which is being overseen by South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney at the Hebburn Hub, is expected to last for up to two weeks.