Coroner says ‘no failures’ in treatment of man who cut throat – but calls for police docs to get medical records

South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney
South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney

A CORONER will urge police chiefs to make the medical records of people in custody more available to force doctors after the tragic death of a South Tyneside dad.

David Young died after cutting his throat in front of his parents, shortly after being released from police custody.

The 34-year-old, who had a history of mental health issues and amphetamine abuse, had driven to South Shields police station on July 2, 2012, to ask officers for help with his drug problem.

• ‘Disgraceful’ – family slam police nightshift’s treatment of son before his death

The father-of-one was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs and taken into custody.

In the early hours of the following day, he was taken to the home of his parents, Ann and Leslie Young, in Fennel Grove, South Shields. But shortly after arriving, Mr Young, of Dene Mews, Sunderland, cut his throat with a kitchen knife in front of his parents.

He was later pronounced dead at South Tyneside District Hospital.

South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney said that when forensic medical examiner, Dr Paul Nellist, examined Mr Young at the station, he did not utilise medical records that were available.

The records included history of Mr Young’s admission to Cherry Knowle psychiatric hospital, in Sunderland, in March 2012.

Mr Carney said that Northumbria Police and the mental health services work in “close collaboration” but that he intended to write to both to ensure that medical records are more readily available to doctors who are called in to examine people in custody.

He said: “Hopefully with that information there will be a better outcome for individuals like David.”

Mr Carney also intends to write to drug and alcohol agencies with a view to “building a bridge between the patient, the service and their families”.

He said that families should be able to be more involved in the care 
and treatment of their loved ones, without breaching patient confidentiality.

He highlighted Mr Young’s time in Cherry Knowle, when he told doctors he didn’t want his family to be involved and therefore, legally, they couldn’t be.

Mr Carney said: “It’s my proposal that in and around the next series of meetings between my office and drug services in Gateshead and South Tyneside, I’m going to investigate a process to building that bridge so that families such as David’s are not left in limbo because of that confidentiality.”

Directing the jury, Mr Carney told them that they must not use the word ‘failure’ in their finding.

He said: “When you fashion your conclusion, you will not say there is a failure on the part of mental health services in their management and care of this man or with the police service and their management and care of him.

“There is no evidence that suggests to us that the management and care in either case has caused or contributed to his death.

“What the evidence over-ridingly tells us sadly is this, this is a young man who for a number of years was using, and indeed misusing, drugs.

“He was addicted to amphetamine. He liked it. He didn’t like the after-effects but the buzz it gave him initially was enough to keep him.”

The jury took four hours to deliver its narrative finding.

It was: “After looking at all the evidence into the death of David Frazer Young, we the jury have come to the conclusion that David died from a wound to the neck which was self-inflicted while he was suffering from a chronic relapsing disorder related to amphetamine misuse.

“No previous history or intention to self-harm.”

They recorded the medical cause of death as haemorrhagic shock due to an incision wound to neck, contributed to by the effects of amphetamine use.

After the inquest, Assistant Chief Constable Winton Keenen said: “Northumbria Police offers its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of David Frazer Young.

“We acknowledge the verdict of HM Coroner and his comments and will continue to review our processes and procedures in an effort to learn and improve and will consider carefully any correspondence we receive from HM Coroner as a result of this inquest.”

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