PC 'would act differently' over Reading cell death

Leroy Medford Image copyright Marilyn Medford
Image caption Leroy Junior Medford died after collapsing at Loddon Valley police station

A police officer who arrested a man who later died told an inquest if he was able to go back in time his "actions would have been different".

PC Tim Forrest said "on reflection" he would have taken Leroy Junior Medford straight to hospital rather than to the police station.

The court heard officers believed Mr Medford had concealed drugs following a strip search.

Mr Medford died on 2 April 2017, 15-and-a-half hours after his arrest.

A jury at Reading Coroner's Court heard how the 43-year-old, known to his family and friends as Junior, had been arrested the day before over an assault allegation.

PC Forrest said Mr Medford was placed on constant observation and a strip search was conducted at Loddon Valley police station due to officers being told he was "packing" drugs.

He added Mr Medford, from Reading, was "reluctant to comply" with the search but said he still believed he was concealing the drugs.

PC Forrest told the court he was aware such items could "rupture or break", which could be "detrimental" to a person's health.

Mr Medford, who had diabetes, was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital for doctors to examine him further, but an "intimate search" for the item was stopped when Mr Medford became "agitated" and said "this is rape".

'Traumatic impact'

A CT scan was taken but doctors said they "could not see any indication of drugs internally at that point".

Former PC Leigh Hayes, who assisted PC Forrest, said he was "surprised" at the result.

The court heard Mr Medford was discharged from hospital until his condition deteriorated and his death was then confirmed at the same hospital a day later.

PC Forrest said: "On reflection, if I was able to go back to that incident, my actions would have been different.

"As soon as we received that information [the concealing of drugs] I would not have taken Junior to the police station. I would have asked for transportation to take Junior straight to hospital."

In a statement written by Mr Medford's sister Marilyn Medford-Hawkins, the court heard his family "had suspicions" he had taken drugs but added they "didn't know with any certainty".

Mrs Medford-Hawkins added the deaths of his mother in 1999, his three-month-old son Carlos in 2000 and two other family members had had a "traumatic and devastating impact" on him.

The inquest is expected to last three weeks.

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