Funeral of man who died in Washington police station

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THE funeral will be held tomorrow of a dad-of-three who died in a Wearside police cell.

Stephen Berry died in the early hours of Saturday, March 30, after being held at Washington Police Station.

An investigation is under way by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in a bid to determine the circumstances leading to the 43-year-old’s death.

Mr Berry’s funeral will be held at the Independent Methodist Church, Easington Lane, at 11am tomorrow.

An inquest into the death has been opened and adjourned by Gateshead’s coroner.

Mr Berry was arrested at his home in Houghton on Thursday, March 28, after he did not turn up for an appearance before Gateshead Magistrates’ Court, where he was to face a charge of possessing an offensive weapon.

He was put in a cell at Washington Police station and, as a matter of routine, was seen by doctors who work on behalf of the force.

He was due to appear in court on Saturday, March 30.

At 11.39pm on the Friday, concerned for his well-being, an ambulance was called to Washington Police Station at the request of a doctor.

During this time, Mr Berry’s condition worsened and another 999 call was made.

At 1am on the Saturday, he was pronounced dead on arrival at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead.

IPCC family liaison managers have met Mr Berry’s relations and are keeping them up to date with their investigation.

Northumbria Police Chief Supereminent Kay Blyth told the Echo: “We are fully co-operating with the IPCC during their investigation into this incident.

“Any death in police custody, irrespective of the circumstances, must be immediately referred to the IPCC.

Mr Berry’s death came just a week after Martin Leck, 34, died after being held in a South Tyneside police cell.

Mr Leck was arrested by Northumbria Police on Friday, March 22, for being drunk and disorderly and taken to South Shields police station at about 8pm.

At about 10pm, he was found in his cell with breathing difficulties and an ambulance was called, but he was pronounced dead at South Tyneside General Hospital at 11.44pm.

In 2003, Martin Dakers, 17, died in a cell at Washington police station after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.