‘Heavy’ cocaine use and ‘struggle against restraint’ played role in death of dad-of-four handcuffed naked by police

The death of a dad-of-four following his arrest outside his family home in Oldham was ‘multifactoral’ an inquest has heard.

A pathologist said she had concluded the ‘high level’ of cocaine had Andre Moura ‘recently’ taken as well as a condition called Acute Behavioural Disturbance (ABD) and ‘struggle against restraint’ all played a part in him collapsing and suffering a cardiac arrest when he did. The 30-year-old was detained for a ‘breach of the peace’ after several calls from his partner to police on the evening of July 6, 2018.

After being told he was being arrested a struggle ensured during which he was sprayed with CS gas and his clothes removed. He was eventually double handcuffed and placed face down on the ground outside a police van before being intially placed face down in the van before being ‘repositioned’ the inquest has been told.

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An ambulance was initially called to check him over but was then cancelled shortly afterwards with the officer who called it previously telling the inquest he had been told Mr Moura was responding and was ‘fine.’

Mr Moura was taken to Ashton police station in Tameside, however on arrival a custody nurse who was sent to check him over said he was ‘not breathing’ and that she couldn’t find a pulse.

Mr Moura was found to be ‘not breathing’ by a custody nurse following his arrival at Ashton Police station
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Resuscitation attempts began and continued as he was taken to Tameside General Hospital where his death was declared at 1:30am in the early hours of Saturday, July 7.

Today (Monday) a Home Office pathologist who carried out a forensic post-mortem on Mr Moura was the final witness to give evidence at a four-week inquest into his death being heard before a jury at South Manchester Coroner’s Court in Stockport.

Dr Naomi Carter told the jury she believed his death was ‘multifactoral’ and that the incident had to be taken ‘in its entirety.’

She said she had concluded his death was caused by ‘cocaine toxicity resulting in hyperthermia and Acute Behavioural Disturbance (ABD) in association with obesity and struggle against restraint’ saying all those factors were ‘potentially relevant to why he collapsed and died when he did.’

Dr Carter said she believed the cocaine to be a ‘very significant factor.’ A toxicologist concluded the level of cocaine and its primary metabolite in his blood at post-mortem was consistent with ‘heavy abuse of the drug’ and ‘suggested recent use, within a few hours of his death..’

Mr Moura’s death was declared at Tameside Hospital where Dr Carter also took his temperature
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

The hearing was told the level was within the ‘wide range’ seen in cases of fatality due to cocaine toxicity alone. However, she said the level could have also been non-fatal in a ‘tolerant user.’ She said a pathologist could not comment on someone’s tolerance to a drug.

However, she said she believed the effects of the drug are ‘likely to have interacted with the physiological effects of the circumstances of his arrest.’

She said she had concluded he had suffered an episode of ABD, which the inquest has heard can be caused by both drug use and psychiatric illness, in part due to his high temperature.

Dr Carter explained that when she took Mr Moura’s temperature just after 11am on July 7, 10 hours and 10 minutes after his death had been declared, he had a temperature of 36 degrees Celcius, which would be considered a normal body temperature in life, suggested he had a ‘significantly raised’ core body temperature at the time of the incident.

She said she also came to the conclusion after watching footage of the incident from the police officers’ body-worn cameras, noting he had a ‘sigificant number of risk factors’ for the condition.

The inquest is being heard at South Manchester Coroner’s Court in Stockport
(Image: MEN Media)

When asked if he may have still suffered a cardiac arrest due to the cocaine alone and without the influence of the other factors in her conclusion, Dr Carter said: “It’s a possibility I cannot exclude.”

Senior Coroner Alison Mutch asked Dr Cater: “Do you think he was dead at Ashton police station?” following earlier evidence from a nurse that she believed he could have been.

Dr Carter said she was unable to say precisely when he had suffered the cardiac arrest but that she believed it most likely occured ‘sometime between being put into the back of the police van and being taken out of it.’

She added if a suggestion that Mr Moura was seen to move his leg in the back of the van at Ashton police station was correct, then it was possible he had had the cardiac arrest after the van doors were opened.

However, she said if this was incorrect to say ‘it’s possible he could have had the cardiac arrest very close to the time he was put in the back of the police van.’

She said he had a number of injuries consistent with the struggle with officers including some bruises, both on the skin surface and underneath, and some grazes. However, none of these could have been said to have contributed to the death, the court heard. She said she also found no signs of traumatic head injury or pressure on the neck.

The coroner is set to sum up the evidence to the jury later this week following which they will retire to consider their conclusions in the case,

Proceeding

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Manchester Evening News – Oldham