A popular footballer died from “extensive” head injuries after escaping from a police car and being found at the bottom of cliffs, an inquest has heard.
The body of Karl David Carson, 26, was found at the foot of cliffs at Marsden, South Shields, in the early hours of July 6, last year.
The father-of-two, of Arnold Street, Boldon Colliery, had been at an engagement party at the Marsden Grotto pub, when a fight broke out in the car park.
Police were called at 12.34am and Mr Carson, who played football for Wearside League outfit Boldon CA, was arrested in connection with the fight, and placed inside a police vehicle. But at 1.03am his body was found at the bottom of Marsden cliffs.
Coroner Terence Carney told a jury at the inquest, being held at Gateshead Civic Centre, that today they will hear police evidence that Karl climbed head first out of the police car via an open window.
Giving evidence yesterday, friend Shaun Carroll said that after leaving the party, Mr Carson “grappled” with a man outside the pub before they began walking along the Coast Road towards South Shields town centre.
They made it to the Minchella’s ice cream booth at the roundabout before being stopped by police.
He said: “The officers put Karl into the car and I started arguing with them.
“They told me I should watch what I was saying or they’d arrest me as well and I said they wouldn’t be able to catch me.
“I took a few steps and lost my footing and they arrested me. When they put me in the back of the car, I thought nothing of where Karl had gone and I never saw him again.”
Mr Carroll was taken to South Shields police station and later told that Mr Carson had been found dead.
Daniel Lydon, of Boldon Colliery, said he phoned Mr Carson and began walking towards Minchella’s to meet up with his friends.
He said he saw the police talking to them and as Mr Carroll was being arrested, saw Mr Carson on the ground outside the police car before he then stood up and ran back towards the Grotto pub.
Mr Carson’s mother, Julie, said her self-employed bricklayer son had spent the day with his former partner, Laura Nisbet and their children, Oliver and Leah, and that she had dropped him home to get ready for the engagement party.
She said: “He was a fun-loving lad that loved life and loved his kids.”
Miss Nisbet, of Biddick Hall, South Shields, said she had been patching up her relationship with Mr Carson.
She added: “He was on top of the world because as far as he was concerned he was getting his family back, which was all he ever hoped for.”
Dr Jennifer Bolton, a Home Office pathologist, who carried out the post mortem examination on Mr Carson, told the inquest there was no evidence that he had been gripped or that he had handcuffs on.
She said he had a number of “blunt force injuries”, including bruises, grazes and lacerations to his arms, chest, legs and head.
The most serious of his injuries was an “extensive fracture” to his skull and a bleed around the brain.
A toxicology report showed that Mr Carson had 223mg of alcohol in his blood, about three times the drink-drive limit.
Dr Bolton said: “His injuries were consistent with a fall from a great height and are such that he would have been essentially, instantaneously unconscious.
“He would not have regained consciousness and he would have died quickly.
“It is likely that he would not have survived regardless of how quickly he was found.”
•The inquest continues.