Wales

Meirion James' sister blames GP at custody death inquest

Meirion James Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Meirion James's medication for a bipolar condition was changed in the months before he died

The sister of a man who died in police custody broke down in tears at an inquest, saying "if only the GP had done something".

Diana Vaughan-Thomas told a hearing she had spoken to two medical professionals the day before her brother Meirion James died in January 2015.

Mr James, 53, had been restrained by officers at a Pembrokeshire police station when he died.

The jury inquest in Haverfordwest is expected to last until 25 January.

Mr James, who suffered from bi-polar disorder and manic depression, had been involved in an altercation with another driver in Llanrhystud on 30 January and taken by police to Bronglais hospital.

'Got aggressive'

Ms Vaughan-Thomas said she rang the hospital and urged them to keep her brother for a psychiatric assessment.

She said: "The doctor got a bit aggressive on the phone and said 'Are you trying to tell me how to do my job?' and put the phone down."

Ms Vaughan-Thomas said she then called the family GP, Dr Martin Mackintosh, who advised her to urge the hospital to make a full mental assessment.

However she told the inquest: "He's the GP... I'm not the professional... they were."

She added, in tears: "If only the GP had done what he should have done."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The inquest is being held at County Hall in Haverfordwest

Mr James was arrested the following morning after assaulting his mother at their home in Crymych, the day on which he died.

He was initially under one-to-one observation at Haverfordwest police station but that was changed to checks every half hour, after he was seen by a doctor.

PC Riccardo Hart told the inquest Mr James was pulling his own hair out "in clumps" and had urinated on himself even though there was a toilet in the cell.

The jury saw CCTV footage from inside the police station. An officer is heard telling him that his colleagues would "do their best to look after you."

Ms Vaughan-Thomas had earlier told the inquest her brother had become more agitated after his medication had been changed in 2014.

His dosage of lithium was lowered because it was affecting his kidney function and then Mr James told the doctor he did not want to take lithium any more.

The inquest continues.

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