Inquest opened into death of man who fell ill at Sunderland’s Southwick police station

Southwick Police Station.
Southwick Police Station.

An inquest into the death of a man who died after he fell ill at a Sunderland police station has been formally opened by the city’s coroner.

Steven James Henderson died on Tuesday, January 15, after he was taken to hospital by paramedics.

Sunderland Coroner's Court

Sunderland Coroner's Court

The 55-year-old had been taken to Southwick Police Station at about 10pm on Sunday, January 13, after being arrested by officers in Sunderland.

The next morning he became unwell and received medical attention by custody staff before he was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

He received further medical treatment at the Royal, where he remained in a critical condition before he passed away.

The death was referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), as is required in such circumstances, and the coroner was informed at that point.

At Sunderland Coroner’s Court, city coroner Derek Winter formally opened the inquest into Mr Henderson’s death.

He said that the body of Mr Henderson, who lived in Oxford Avenue, in the Usworth area of Washington, had been identified by a family member on January 17 following his death two days before.

A post-mortem examination has since been carried out by a Home Office pathologist, with the results now being awaited.

Mr Winter said: “There are pending matters arising into what happened at the police station which will take some time.
“There is a possibility that Mr Henderson’s death arose while in the care of the police.”

Mr Winter told the hearing that he will adjourn the inquest until Tuesday, May 7.

In a statement released following Mr Henderson’s death, a Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s family at this extremely difficult time.”

The IOPC said it sent investigators to the scene to carry out an assessment.

They reviewed CCTV footage from the custody suite and checked documentation before reporting that there were no conduct issues in relation to the actions of the officers who dealt with Mr Henderson.

A spokesperson added: “As such, we have decided that an independent investigation is not required and have referred the matter back to the force for a local investigation.”