‘Not enough’ medical evidence claims health specialist at custody death inquest

Female Medical Forensic Doctorfrom Birmingham Mail
24th November 2009

A health specialist said “not enough” medical evidence was collected after a Birmingham man died in police custody, an inquest jury heard.

Michael Powell, aged 38, was taken to Thornhill Road Police Station, in Handsworth, after he was arrested for causing a disturbance outside his Lozells home. He died while in police cells on September 6, 2003.

The father-of-three had carried the sickle cell trait, a genetic blood disorder which, when coupled with severe physical exertion, can lead to sudden death.

Professor Sebastian Lucas, head of histopathology at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine, told the jury at Sutton Town Hall that more tissue samples should have been taken to help determine Mr Powell’s cause of death.

He said: “The fact that this inquest has been going on for weeks and weeks is that not enough was done at day one.”

Professor Lucas, who examined tissue samples for the sickle cell trait, said it was a “low possibility” it was the cause of Mr Powell’s death. “The sickle cell trait by itself never starts anything,” he said. “If it is there at all, it is on top of something else.”

The inquest also heard evidence from intensive care consultant Professor Hugh Montgomery, who in January this year produced a report into Mr Powell’s death.

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