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Throat cutting was not suicide or an accident, jury told

South Shields Police Station - South Tyneside Area Command
South Shields Police Station - South Tyneside Area Command

AN inquest jury has been told that they must not deliver a finding of suicide in the case of a man who slit his throat in front of his parents after being released from police custody.

David Young inflicted the fatal wound on himself in the early hours of July 3, 2012.

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

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

He was later taken to the home of his parents, Ann and Leslie Young, in Fennel Grove, South Shields, where shortly after arriving, he cut his throat with a kitchen knife.

Mr Young, who lived in Dene Mews, Sunderland, was later pronounced dead at South Tyneside District Hospital.

An inquest has been running for two weeks at Gateshead Civic Centre.

Yesterday, South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney spent the day summing up the evidence that has been heard for the jury, before giving them some legal direction.

He said: “David, there is no doubt about this, inflicted a wound on his neck. It was self-inflicted and it led to his death.

“You are people of the world, and your initial reaction to those facts would be to say that he has committed suicide.

“That word, ‘suicide’, is one of those single word conclusions which we are so familiar with.

“I say to you, with respect, that you could be forgiven for coming to that conclusion, because it seems such an obvious one, but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s not an appropriate conclusion.

“Suicide is only an appropriate finding if you can be satisfied that not only did he inflict that wound, but at the time he did it, he knew what he was doing, that he had a settled and definite intention of doing that and that he had a settled and definite intention to take his life.

“Members of the jury, the evidence in this case in no way brings us to that conclusion because we cannot be sure of that essential mental element in the same way that we can be certain about the infliction of that wound. We have to be certain that we are, beyond reasonable doubt.

“We cannot on the basis of the evidence we have heard, therefore I am going to withdraw that finding from you.”

Mr Carney also told the jury that 
‘accident’ was not an appropriate finding.

He said that what Mr Young did was neither a “inadvertent action leading to an unforeseen or adverse result” or a “deliberate act leading to an unintended event and an unforeseen result”.

He said: “You don’t know what David was about. We don’t know if his action in coming into contact with that knife was inadvertent and therefore the cutting of his throat was an unintended consequence.

“We don’t know if it was a deliberate cutting of the throat, but that it was not intended to be as deep and traumatic as it was, or fatal.”

He also steered the jury away from a finding of ‘drug-related death’, instead inviting them to add ‘effects of amphetamine’ to the medical cause of Mr Young’s death.

Mr Carney also said the jury were not to deliver a finding of ‘neglect’ and may wish to consider writing their own narrative conclusion.

The jury was today due to be asked to consider and deliver a finding.

n The hearing continues.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki