‘I heard a noise, a thud’ – inquest hears of moment Karl Carson escaped police custody before cliff death

Marsden Grotto
Marsden Grotto

A police officer told an inquest of the moment a South Tyneside man climbed out of a car window to escape custody while she was arresting his friend.

Pc Donna Foley was giving evidence into the death of Karl Carson, 26, who was found dead at the foot of cliffs near the Marsden Grotto pub a short time later.

Karl Carson

Karl Carson

Pc Foley said Mr Carson, of Arnold Street, Boldon Colliery, had been under arrest but got out of the locked car by winding down the manual window and running off into the darkness while she was arresting his friend.

Pc Foley told the hearing in Gateshead that she was paired with Pc Peter Turnbull when they went to investigate reports of a fight in the pub car park just after midnight on July 6 last year.

Pc Foley said two groups of people were talking to officers who were all ready there when she arrived

She said Inspector Gary Dickson who told her a man had left the area and that she was asked to track him down.

I heard a noise, a thud, and I turned to see what was happening and he immediately started on the run.

Pc Foley

She said: “I was told it was a male by the name of Karl Carson wearing a white shirt and with ginger hair.”

Pc Foley said she and her partner drove along the Coast Road towards South Shields where she saw three men walking in the direction of South Shields.

She said she now knows these men to be Karl Carson, Shaun Carroll and Daniel Lydon.

The officer said she asked Mr Carson to stay with them while they established what had happened and that he got in the back of the car and was “compliant”.

She said: “Karl Carson got in the back of the vehicle and Mr Carroll got in the other side. Pc Turnbull asked him to get out of the car.

“Pc Turnbull said he would be arrested if he didn’t get out. Throughout all this Mr Carson was still compliant.”

Pc Foley said things escalated after Mr Carson said he also wanted to get out of the car.

Pc Foley said that, when Mr Carson said he wanted to get out of the car, she contacted her Inspector to ask what she should do, since he was not under arrest and free to leave.

She also said that at this point, Mr Carroll and Mr Lydon became “argumentative”.

She said: “He said if Mr Carson wasn’t willing to wait that we should arrest him on suspicion of assault until we could establish what had happened.”

Pc Foley said that Pc Turnbull told Mr Carson he was under arrest but that they didn’t caution him or handcuff him because of what happened next.

She said: “He was told he was under arrest and I was about to get in the back of the vehicle when Mr Carroll started shouting at Pc Turnbull.

Pc Foley says Mr Carroll was then told he was under arrest for being drunk and disorderly but that he tried to run away and resisted arrest.

While the two officers were on top of him, trying to restrain him, Pc Foley heard a thud and turned to see Mr Carson lying on the ground outside the police car.

She said, as he got up to run back towards the Grotto pub, Mr Lydon ran off in the other direction.

She said: “I heard a noise, a thud, and I turned to see what was happening and he immediately started on the run.

“There’s a small embankment that leads on to the car park to the left of the Marsden Grotto and once he was on there he was in darkness and I couldn’t see him.”

Pc Foley said she and Pc Turnbull continued to struggle with Mr Carroll while this was going on, and after handcuffing him, took him to South Shields police station.

She said once in the custody suite, she heard over the radio that officers had found Mr Carson at the bottom of the cliffs and were carrying out CPR on him.