‘Stress’ of scuffle contributed to heart attack of man who died during police arrest

Police in Wetherby Road following the death of Gary McVey there last December.

Police in Wetherby Road following the death of Gary McVey there last December.

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The stress of a scuffle with family members and a police officer “contributed” to the death of a man who had a heart attack, an inquest jury has found.

Gary McVey, 36, died after becoming unresponsive as he struggled with Pc Graeme Kelly, his father Brian and his brother Lee on December 18 last year.

The primary cause of death was a pre-existing heart condition, however, the stress caused by the events on December 18, 2014 were contributing factors

Coroner’s jury

Pc Kelly was the first officer on the scene after police were dispatched to Mr McVey’s home to investigate phone calls made from his phone regarding a firearms incident, which later turned out to be a hoax call.

After Pc Kelly realised Mr McVey had stopped moving and his face had turned grey, officers began CPR and paramedics took over at the family home in Wetherby Road, Grangetown.

However, Mr McVey – a paranoid schizophrenic who had stopped taking his medication – never regained consciousness, and was later pronounced dead at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

During an inquest at Sunderland Coroner’s Court, the jury heard evidence from pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper, who said the cause of death was a heart attack due to an enlarged heart and severe blockage of the coronary arteries. The condition had been unknown.

After retiring to consider its verdict, the jury found that the primary cause of death was a pre-existing heart condition, with the stress caused by the events of that day as a contributing factor.

Assistant coroner Karin Welsh had earlier told the jury not to consider the manner in which Mr McVey was restrained by Pc Kelly, an issue which had been raised by his father while giving evidence as he claimed too much force was used.

That was because pathologist Dr Cooper had concluded in his evidence that, on the balance of probability, he could not say the weight of Pc Kelly’s knee on Mr McVey’s shoulders contributed to the death.

l Verdict: Natural causes.