Sunderland man died after taking lethal wrap of cocaine during police raid on his home

Police in High Street, Easington Lane, after the death of David Stubbs.
Police in High Street, Easington Lane, after the death of David Stubbs.

A Sunderland man died after swallowing cocaine as police raided his home

David Stubbs, 43, died at his home in High Street, Easington Lane, during a police raid, after swallowing a wrap of the Class A drug. A post-mortem later showed he had a level of cocaine in his blood ‘15 times over the lethal range’.

A jury inquest, held at Sunderland Coroners Court, heard how Northumbria Police were called to the home of Mr Stubbs, at 7.30pm on October 12 to carry out a search warrant.

On arrival, police were able to gain entry by an open front door where they found Mr Stubbs sitting in the living room. After informing him they were there to carry out a search, Mr Stubbs went into the kitchen where he swallowed a wrap of cocaine, despite officers pleas for him to spit it out.

Giving evidence, Independent Police Complaints Comission (IPCC) family liaison manager Jack Unsworth said: “The search warrant was to look for drugs.
“An armed response unit was called there initially, solely for the use of their equipment to gain entry, but they were not required, as officers were able to access the property through the open front door, so they left straight away.

“David was sat in the front room of the property when officers entered. 
“Officers shouted ‘police’ and ‘search warrant’ to make clear to him why they were there and then David took himself to the kitchen.

“When offices went towards him he took a white wrap and put his hand up to his mouth, despite officers telling him to spit it out to try and stop him from taking it.”

When asked what it was he had taken, Mr Stubbs said it was aspirin, but then said he had taken half a gram of cocaine, saying that was the usual amount he would take.

Police called an ambulance and while waiting for it to arrive, Mr Stubbs chatted with officers, but then said was feeling ill, at which point he admitted he had actually taken a gram and half of cocaine.

Mr Unsworth continued: “David started showing signs of being physically unwell and started to fit and have seizures.

“Police put him in the recovery position on the floor and placed a second call for an ambulance.”

Paramedics arrived at 8.09pm and carried out CPR for 20 minutes on Mr Stubbs who had gone into cardiac arrest and had stopped breathing. But he sadly died at 8.52pm at the scene.

Coroner’s officer Neville Dixon said a post-mortem examination showed Mr Stubbs had cocaine in his blood which was 15 times over the lethal range amount, said to be around 900 to 1,000 nanograms per litre.

He said: “The toxic range to lethal range is 900 nanograms per litre to 1,000 nanograms per litre.
“David’s reading was 15 times the lethal range. No other drugs were found in his system.”

Senior assistant coroner Karin Welsh said Mr Stubbs died of cocaine toxicity and recorded his death as misadventure.

She said: “There is no suggestion that anything could have been done differently by Northumbria Police that could have made the outcome different.

“David would not have understood the outcome of his actions on that night and would not have intended to harm himself.”