South West Wales

'Impossible' to link pepper spray to drug bag choke death

Darran Hunt Image copyright Family photo

It is "impossible" to tell if the use of a pepper spray caused a man to fatally swallow a bag of drugs he had in his mouth, an inquest has heard.

Yet Dr Jason Payne-James said pava spray causes a burning sensation that can make someone cough or inhale.

The forensic examiner gave evidence at the Milford Haven inquest into the death of drug addict Darran Hunt.

Mr Hunt began choking and lost consciousness after being arrested in Llanelli in February 2015.

The inquest jury heard Mr Hunt was an unemployed drug addict who was known to police.

CCTV footage showed Dyfed-Powys Police officers trying to arrest Mr Hunt in Llanelli's Sunken Gardens when he put the packet in his mouth.

The inquest heard police used the spray in order to help bring him "under control".

When they realised he was choking, they tried using back slaps and the Heimlich manoeuvre but despite paramedics removing the bag, he died at the scene.

The bag was later found to have been 8cm (3.1in) long and contained a combination of drugs including cannabis and the heroin replacement drug subutex.

Dr Payne-James said it was "impossible" to tell if the use of pepper spray by officers caused him to swallow it.

The hearing continues.

More on this story