Addict released from holding cell in Wrexham died hours later

Published date: 05 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A WOMAN who was released from hospital into police custody died after returning to A&E hours later.

Sian Roberts, 37, a heroin addict for 20 years, spent about seven hours in a holding cell at Wrexham Police Station before being returned to the accident and emergency department at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Police custody nurse Schulla Adams told an inquest in Ruthin yesterday that Miss Roberts’ condition had deteriorated while in the station and by 11pm on November 21, 2010, she was pale and sweating.

“I wanted an excuse to send her back to hospital because she needed to be kept an eye on,” she said.

Earlier in the day Miss Roberts, of no fixed home, had had a scan at the Maelorwhich confirmed she had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her right leg and was prescribed medication to thin her blood.

She was then assessed as fit to be discharged but, as she waited for a lift to her parents’ home in Glyndyfrdwy, near Corwen, she was arrested by PC Kevin Goodbeer who was based at the hospital.

He had found there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest for not attending court.

The inquest jury was shown CCTV footage of PC Goodbeer and Miss Roberts’ friend Roger Hewitt holding her up as she struggled to walk to the police car.

During her time in hospital and at the police station she complained of a severe pain in her leg, which was the reason she had attended hospital initially on November 20.

Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers said the cause of death was septicaemia caused by a combination of two infections, the extremely rare venous gangrene and necrotising fasciitis – also known as flesh-eating disease.

Dr Rodgers also said there was chronic scarring in her groin area where she had been injecting heroin.

He said the infections could cause a rapid decline within a few hours.

Paramedic Wayne Jones, who examined Miss Roberts’ leg before taking her to hospital, and Carol Edwards, who carried out the ultrascan, told the hearing they had not seen anything untoward to indicate infection.

Dr Rodgers said: “She has been examined by a number of doctors and this was not seen, so it does suggest there has been a very rapid deterioration.”

Fiona Rae, the consultant on duty in the A&E department who assessed Miss Roberts as fit to be discharged, said she did so on the basis of the scan report and records of her visit to the hospital the previous evening when the scan was authorised.

On the previous evening doctors had been unable to take a blood sample from Miss Roberts and Dr Rae agreed with North East Wales coroner John Gittins that a blood test on the return visit might have revealed the infection.

Asked whether changes should be made as a result of Miss Roberts’ death, she replied: “Perhaps we should push harder for a blood test, even when things are difficult.”

Sgt Martin Jones, the custody officer on duty at Wrexham Police Station that night, said although Miss Roberts was in pain, he was aware she had been to hospital, but he wanted her to be returned there because there would be no custody nurse on duty after 3am.

The inquest hearing is expected to conclude today.


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