Custody death inquest begins

Brian Savage
Brian Savage
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A DRIVER who died in a police cell in Spalding after being arrested on suspicion of drink-driving had given a breath test under the legal alcohol limit.

Jurors were played three hours of video footage showing the final moments of 69-year-old Brian Savage’s life as the inquest into how he died began at the Red Lion Quarter in Spalding yesterday morning.

The videos show how police spoke of their concern for the Sutton Bridge pensioner’s condition and how they later tried to revive him.

He died in a cell at Spalding Police Station at 3.20am on February 25 last year after crashing his Volkswagen Sharan in Bridge Road at about 11.40pm the night before.

He was arrested at the scene of the crash, outside Frankie’s Cafe, and checked over by paramedics before being taken into custody at about 1am.

One of the seven clips seen by the nine-strong jury shows how Mr Savage struggled to give a breath test and was only able to register one reading, not the two required.

He had been unable to stand so his chair was moved so he could sit in front of the breathalyser machine.

The video showed how his one successful breath test registered 31 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath, the legal limit is 35.

The officer carrying out the test said: “If you had given me the second sample you were under the limit.”

Results of a subsequent blood test, taken by health care professional Kevin Sawyer, were not revealed at the time of going to press.

The videos showed a police officer explaining to a colleague he had got ambulance staff to check Mr Savage over because he “did not want him to keel over on the way here”.

Another officer said she felt “edgy” about Mr Savage’s condition and she had noticed his eyes weren’t focused.

Other clips show Mr Savage tell officers that he was unable to stand and him in his cell as he was discovered dead by an officer as he was checked on.

The inquest had been adjourned twice by coroners, after being scheduled for April and then July this year.

Mr Savage’s death has also been subject to an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The findings of the investigation are expected to be revealed for the first time during the inquest, which could last as long as ten days.

The hearing continues.