Reading police cell death caused by heroin

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

A suspect being monitored by police officers died after taking heroin in his cell, an inquest concluded.

Leroy Junior Medford was arrested in April 2017 on suspicion of assault and taken to Loddon Valley police station in Reading, jurors heard.

The 43-year-old died 15 hours later, and CCTV played to the coroner showed Mr Medford swallowing a substance he had hidden in his trousers.

Thames Valley Police said "lessons have been learned".

Jurors at Berkshire Coroner's Court heard Mr Medford was strip-searched by officers and he was taken to hospital for a scan to check if the drugs were being concealed internally.

Officers also did not find drugs on a third search of the father of eight after he was taken back to the station.

Two officers were tasked with the "constant supervision" of Mr Medford in his cell.

CCTV footage from the cell played in court showed him later removing a package from his trousers and swallowing it, which was not seen by the two constables on duty.

The officers told the inquest they did not believe Mr Medford had had the opportunity to remove and swallow anything.

Mr Medford later collapsed and was pronounced dead at in hospital at 05:13 BST on 2 April 2017.

The inquest had earlier heard from a toxicologist who agreed with a post-mortem examination report that concluded the death was as "a result of ingestion of heroin".

Heidi Connor, senior coroner for Berkshire, said police should have "done more" and called for a review into how suspected drug users are monitored in custody.

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