Police cleared of any improper conduct in drugs death

High Street in Easington Lane.
High Street in Easington Lane.
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An inquiry into the death of a Sunderland man has cleared officers.

David Stubbs, 43, died after swallowing cocaine as police raided his home in Easington Lane.

The 43-year-old died in his High Street home after taking the Class A drug when police raided it in October last year.

A report following an investigation carried out by the IPCC, Independent Police Complaints Commission, has today cleared the officers of acting improperly.

It said there was no indication that Northumbria Police officers who had contact with Mr Stubbs prior to his death acted improperly in any way.

The report comes after an inquest into Mr Stubbs' death, last week, recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

The IPCC report, said: "The evidence obtained in the investigation provided no indication that the officers who had entered Mr Stubbs’ home to execute the drugs warrant had acted improperly in any way. It also showed that immediate medical assistance was sought after Mr Stubbs had been witnessed swallowing what appeared to be a quantity of drugs at the scene.

"The investigation also considered other circumstances relating to the way that Mr Stubbs' death had been initially investigated. In the investigator’s opinion there was evidence to suggest that a police constable had failed to preserve the integrity of the scene, following Mr Stubbs’ death, by allowing a member of the public to enter the property. Though not amounting to misconduct, in the investigator’s opinion this did fall below the standard expected – the officer has since received management action in relation to this matter.

"In addition, during the investigation, the IPCC was made aware that incorrect information had been provided by Northumbria Police to Mr Stubbs’ family, in the immediate aftermath of his death. In the investigator’s opinion there was no evidence to suggest there had been any intention to mislead family members and information was communicated as it was understood at the time."

IPCC Commissioner, Carl Gumsley, said: “The IPCC conducted a thorough investigation looking at all aspects of the police actions leading up to, and following, Mr Stubbs’ death. My sympathies go to Mr Stubbs’ family and I’d like to thank them for their assistance with this investigation.”

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Stubbs had a level of cocaine in his blood which was 15 times over the lethal range.

The inquest heard that police entered through an open front door and after informing Mr Stubbs they were there to do a search he went into the kitchen and swallowed a wrap of cocaine despite pleas from officers to spit it out.

Police called an ambulance and while waiting for it to arrive, Mr Stubbs started to fit and have seizures and went into cardiac arrest.

Police put him in the recovery position on the floor and paramedics arrived to carry out CPR, but he was pronounced dead on the scene.

Following the IPCC report, a spokesman for Northumbria Police, said: "This was a tragic death and our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Stubbs. We know this has been an incredibly difficult time for them and we continue to offer our sincere condolances."