Dad died after ambulance crew refused to treat him without support from police officers

A paramedic crew refused to tend to a dad - who was dying at his home - without police support after it was revealed he had a history of aggression towards emergency services, an inquest heard.

Monday, 6th November 2017, 5:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:00 pm
Sunderland Coroner's Court.

Darren James Powney, 37, called 999 on the morning of December 28 last year, believing he was suffering a heart attack.

The North East Ambulance Service was instructed to attend Mr Powney’s home in Houghton, but after discovering a number of “warning markers” on his record, they refused to go to the property unless accompanied by officers from Northumbria Police, an inquest into his death heard.

He called 999 at 6.52am on December 28 to complain of breathlessness and pain in his chest and arms, but it wasn’t until almost an hour later that a police officer arrived at the Shields Place house, quickly followed by paramedics who had been waiting nearby.

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He was found slumped in a chair in the living room.

Mr Powney’s teenage son, who was sleeping in a bedroom, was awoken by the first police officer on the scene.

Mr Powney, who worked as a delivery driver, was pronounced dead at 8.50am, with a post-mortem examination later revealing that he had suffered a pulmonary embolism, which is the sudden blockage of a major blood vessel in the lung.

During the hearing, Mr Powney’s phone call to the emergency services was played for the benefit of the jury.

In it Mr Powney can be heard saying he thought he was “having a heart attack”, before adding “I can’t breathe”.

His last plea to the call handler was “hurry up please”.

North East Ambulance Service records found that Mr Powney had a history of showing aggression when being treated by paramedics which included admitting owning weapons, including two claw hammers, which he kept in his van.

Paramedics had treated Mr Powney at his home on three occasions in the months running up to his death without any problems, with the callouts happening in August, September and November.

After discussions with call handler staff, officer Pc Graham Norton, who had attended Mr Powney’s home on previous occasions when he had been unwell, was sent to the house, arriving before 7.50am.

David Stobbs, 24/7 response sergeant with Northumbria Police, said: “The reason I made the decision to send Pc Norton was that it was getting ridiculous, the passage of time. There was no other factor.

“It was getting silly so I said to the police officer ‘make this happen please’.”

Despite attempts to resuscitate him by paramedics, Mr Powney was later declared dead.

The inquest is expected to last until Friday.