England

Duncan Tomlin inquest: Police officer denies 'smirking'

Sgt Christopher Glasspool Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption Sgt Christopher Glasspool was accused of smiling while restraining Duncan Tomlin

A Sussex police sergeant has denied "smirking" as he was restraining a man who later died.

Duncan Tomlin, 32, had epilepsy and died in July 2014 after he suffered a cardiac arrest in the back of a police van while being arrested in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

During the inquest, the family's lawyer Jude Bunting asked Sgt Christopher Glasspool "you think it's funny?".

"No, not at all," he replied.

CCTV from the police van showed Sgt Glasspool and two other officers restraining Mr Tomlin.

When questioned on a moment of the footage in which Mr Bunting claimed he was "smiling... or smirking", Sgt Glasspool disagreed and said "it's just a facial expression".

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Duncan Tomlin died in hospital two days after his arrest in July 2014

West Sussex Coroner's Court previously heard Mr Tomlin had been drinking and taking drugs on the night and had been "violently" struggling against officers before he ceased movement altogether.

Mr Bunting told the court police guidelines state a person restrained on their stomach should be "repositioned as soon as possible" onto their side, to allow "close and careful monitoring" of their breathing.

Mr Bunting put it to Sgt Glasspool that all he did was occasionally "glance in the vague direction of his head" during the three to four minutes Mr Tomlin was restrained.

Sgt Glasspool disagreed and said he could see Mr Tomlin's face as he kept turning his head.

Mr Tomlin's head is not visible on the footage.

Mr Bunting asked: "Did you get complacent?"

"No," replied Sgt Glasspool

Mr Bunting asserted that Mr Tomlin's leg restraints and handcuffs were kept on for an "inappropriate" length of time, including after he stopped moving.

Sgt Glasspool said: "The priority then was to maintain his airway."

Mr Bunting asked: "Does the recovery position include leg restraints and handcuffs?"

"No," Sgt Glasspool replied.

The inquest continues.

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