Mark Needham custody death: Nurse spent 'seconds' checking inmate

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Mark NeedhamImage source, Family photograph
Image caption,
The inquest previously heard Mark Needham should have been taken to hospital rather than detained in a cell

A nurse spent "a matter of seconds" assessing a man who later died in police custody, an inquest has heard.

Mark Needham, 52, had five seizures in a cell at Forth Banks Police Station in Newcastle in July 2015.

Custody nurse Lynne Hetherington admitted her assessment of him as "fit to be detained" was "flawed".

The inquest previously heard he was prone to seizures when withdrawing from alcohol and the national police database had flagged up his condition.

Mr Needham had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

'Quite shocked'

Newcastle Coroner's Court heard Ms Hetherington had said she would "give him an hour or so to calm down a little bit" before checking on him.

Giving evidence, she told the jury she did not think he had not been in "any current danger".

On CCTV footage of the custody desk taken at 12:25 BST, the nurse was seen saying: "He seems quite out of it."

Asked whether she had made that assessment just by looking at CCTV of Mr Needham's cell, she said she had spoken to detention officers on duty.

She said she first visited Mr Needham three-and-a-half hours after he arrived at the station.

"He looked peaceful, he looked comfortable, his colour was good. I made the decision that he was asleep," she said.

Although she told the jury her visit lasted "only a matter of seconds", she said she "concluded that he was fit to be detained".

When asked by senior coroner Karen Dilks whether she would accept her assessment was "fundamentally flawed", she replied "yes."

Ms Hetherington was asked to see Mr Needham in his cell again at 15:00 BST and an ambulance was called.

"I think I was quite shocked as to how Mr Needham had gotten to this point," she said.

The inquest continues.

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