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Collapsed man told police: You’re killing me’

PUBLISHED: 13:58 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 17:32 25 August 2010

A MONTH-LONG inquest into the death of a 32-year-man has begun more than four years after he died in custody. Paul Coker, 32, died at Plumstead police station, two hours after he was arrested at an ex-girlfriend s house for breaching the peace on August

A MONTH-LONG inquest into the death of a 32-year-man has begun more than four years after he died in custody.

Paul Coker, 32, died at Plumstead police station, two hours after he was arrested at an ex-girlfriend's house for breaching the peace on August 6, 2005.

When his inquest at Southwark Crown Court opened last Monday, the jury heard how the cocaine addict shouted to police upon his arrest "I can't breathe, you're killing me".

But he was taken to Plumstead police station, where he died within two hours.

The jury heard Mr Coker became unwell and collapsed after being put in the cells.

Coroner Selina Lynch told jurors that a pathologist's report gave the cause of death as cocaine intoxication.

His former girlfriend Ms Chadwick told the coroner that Mr Coker had been taking cocaine and cannabis and had become "a bit paranoid".

Her landlord and his sons called the police when he refused to leave. She was with them downstairs when officers entered the room to take him away.

Mr Coker had been battling depression, substance abuse and had been sentenced for burglary. But days before his death he had secured a new job and was about to move into a flat, the court heard.

His mother Patricia Coker, 65, who visited him shortly before he went to see his girlfriend described said he was as a "very attractive, charming young man".

She told the court: "He tried very hard to overcome these problems in his later life. He found it difficult, but he was really trying to move forward. He was basically a very good and decent person."

The inquest continues.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk


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