Police failed to note medical condition of epileptic man who later collapsed in Forest Gate station and died

Valdas Jasiunas was found collapsed in his cell at Forest Gate police station after being arrested f

Valdas Jasiunas was found collapsed in his cell at Forest Gate police station after being arrested for begging in September 2010. - Credit: Archant

A homeless man who died in police custody had been found fitting on the floor of a cell at the same station before, an inquest has heard.

An epileptic man who died in police custody would have been released earlier if his medical condition has been recorded when he was previously arrested, an inquest heard.

Eastern District of London Coroner Court were told Valdas Jasiunas was rushed to hospital after he was found collapsed in his cell in Forest Gate police station but died hours later on September 2, 2010.

The homeless 36-year-old Lithuanian, who was not a fluent English speaker, was in custody after he was arrested for begging.

He had previously being detained for being drunk and disorderly but his medical condition was not placed on the police national computer so it failed to appear on his record after officers checked when he was arrested a second time.

Asked whether that information should have been on Valdas’ record, witness Sgt Robert Tilly, custody officer at the time, said: “Without doubt. It would have been a very important indicator for my decision [whether to keep him in custody].”

“This information should have been on the police national computer. We would have seen the warning markers and taken action.”

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Sgt Tilly told the Eastern District of London Coroner that had Valdas’ record shown he suffered from epilepsy, he would have been released.

Valdas, who appeared to be drunk when he was brought into Forest Gate station on September 1, was questioned about his medical history at the time, but, the jury heard, officers were unable to confirm whether or not he understood their questions.

Valdas, who the jury heard may have previously been a religious studies teacher, was also not provided with a translator.

He was admitted to a cell with CCTV, an order to check on him every 30 minutes was made and a doctor was called just after 2pm to assess him due to the “state of intoxication” he was in.

Two hours later a doctor arrived, but without access to up to date records, he noted that Valdas, whose family the authorities have been unable to contact in relation to the death, was fit to remain in custody.

“If the doctor had said he was unfit, I would have released him,” Sgt Tilly told the jury of six men and four women.

Describing the situation in the station on the day Valdas was arrested, Sgt Tilly said: “We had about 13 prisoners and I can almost call it a conveyor belt. Some days it’s absolute Bedlam.”

The inquest continues.

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