Reading police cell watch suspect died of 'overdose'

Leroy Junior Medford Image copyright Handout
Image caption Leroy Junior Medford died after he collapsed in police custody

A suspect who swallowed a package while in his police cell died from a heroin overdose, an inquest heard.

Leroy Junior Medford removed a package from his trousers before swallowing it while he was under constant observation at Loddon Valley police station.

A toxicologist told Reading Coroners' Court the "main cause" of Mr Medford's death was "an overdose of heroin".

The 43-year-old was declared dead in hospital on 2 April 2017, 15 hours after he was arrested.

Professor Alexander Forrest said he agreed with a post mortem examination report that concluded Mr Medford's death was caused "as a result of ingestion of heroin".

The court heard cocaine was also found in Mr Medford's system, but Prof Forrest said the levels were "low" and the findings indicated "recent use of cocaine".

He added: "The main cause of Junior's death was an overdose of heroin."

Strip search

The professor told the court he did not think Mr Medford's diabetes contributed to "the mechanism of his death".

Asked whether Mr Medford would have survived if he had received earlier treatment, Prof Forrest said there is a "good chance of successful resuscitation" assuming there is still a heartbeat.

The jury heard how the father-of-eight, known to his family as Junior, had been arrested on 1 April 2017 over an assault allegation and a drugs offence.

Thames Valley Police officers had been told Mr Medford was concealing drugs and conducted a strip search before taking the suspect to hospital.

After being discharged from hospital, officers conducted a third strip search, but could no longer see the package they had previously believed was concealed by Mr Medford.

Coroner Heidi Connor previously said CCTV images showed during the time Mr Medford was under constant observation by officers, he swallowed a package.

Mr Medford's condition deteriorated and his death was confirmed at Royal Berkshire Hospital on 2 April.

The jury is expected to retire on Tuesday.

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