Granddad was pepper-sprayed by police twice for ‘no reason’, claim witnesses

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A MAN who died in police custody was pepper-sprayed twice on arrest for no apparent reason, two witnesses claim.

A third witness to the arrest of Leonard McCourt told the inquest that the 44-year-old was acting in a way which could have frightened police.

The third day of the inquest was told police were called to Ash Crescent, Seaham, in September 2010, after Mr McCourt was seen in the street attempting to force open the gate of a neighbouring property.

“He was shouting and having a bit of a rant at himself,” said John Graham, 19. “He then went back into his house and a police car and riot van arrived.

“Three officers went to the door and all three went in.

“The police came out a short while later and then Lennie came out to talk to the woman police officer. His voice was a bit raised.

“He shook hands with the older officer, then the younger one sprayed him. I didn’t see any reason for him to do that.”

Mr Graham told the inquest’s jury Mr McCourt staggered to his garden where the younger officer sprayed him again, before handcuffing him.

Vicki Maddison said she saw the younger officer hide his spray behind his leg before approaching Mr McCourt and spraying him.

The inquest earlier heard medical evidence Mr McCourt suffered no serious injury during the arrest and his death was caused by heart failure.