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downsmail.co.uk


‘No police to help’ as son died on oor


A DEVASTATED father wept as the final moments of his son’s troubled life were recounted before an inquest in Maidstone.


Richard Michael Betts (23) died after an altercation at the family home at Larkspur Close, East Malling, in June, 2018.


Mr Betts (pictured), who had a long history of violent behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse, smashed his way into the prop- erty’s side door using a spade, hav- ing broken the window with a flowerpot. His father, Richard Betts Senior,


who had to leave the hearing while his statement was read out, said he had been warned that his son was on the way to the house, which he was banned from visiting. Mr Betts Snr said his son was “shouting and screaming” when he arrived. He said he was stabbed in the arm with a sharp object, pos- sibly a screwdriver, before his son


TOXICOLOGY reports found Mr Betts had a “high level of Xanax” in his system when he died. The inquest heard the drug has serious side effects including ag- gression and irritability. Patholo- gists also found low levels of cannabis, alcohol, and cocaine. Pathologist Olaf Bierdrzycki


said: “Restraint deaths are so rare, and they are usually investigated as a result of a policeman per-


returned with the spade. As they tussled, they fell to the floor and Mr Bett’s father, who had been hit repeatedly with the spade, re- strained him on the floor by sitting on his lower back for about 40 min- utes until police arrived.


Then Mr Betts Snr noticed his


son’s hands and face had gone blue. Home Office pathologist Olaf Bierdrzycki confirmed Mr Betts died of multiple organ failure, as his heart and brain were starved of oxygen and blood.


He said where Mr Betts, who


weighed about 18 stone, had been restrained facing down, he was un- able to expand his chest, causing his oxygen levels to decrease. The father, who criticised Kent Police for the time they took to ar- rive, called out “Rich, Rich” as he


forming one. We expect our police force to be trained and know when a restraint is appropriate. Members of the public, however, do not know this, and there is no way Mr Betts Snr was to know the complications of prone restraint.” Assistant coroner James Dillion said: “Whilst the heart is a robust muscle and can be restarted, once damage is done to other organs, it goes to the point of no return.”


tried to revive him with CPR. Matthew Holdcroft, represent-


ing the police, said the incident was “one


of those circumstances”


where nobody was available to be deployed and that improvements had been made to the policy since Mr Betts’ death. Inspector Alex Tyler admitted there were “significant resources issues at the time”, despite the call being considered immediate. Assistant coroner James Dillon recorded a narrative verdict, say- ing he was satisfied that officers re- alised the urgency of the call, but there was no officer close enough or free to attend immediately. Mr Dillon added: “The issue was


not that they failed to deal with the call, the issue was they didn't have the resources to deal with the call.”


Troubled life THE inquest heard once keen sportsman Richard Betts went “off the rails” drifting into drink and drug abuse. Mr Betts also enjoyed swim-


ming and fishing as a child, but started going downhill after he was expelled from The Malling School at 15. A two-day inquest into Mr Betts’ death heard he had mental health issues as well as anxiety and depression. He often took a cocktail of prescription medicines, including anti-depres- sants, tramadol and diazapam with vodka. He had been referred to local mental health services, but did not always engage suc- cessfully with the help offered.


Heart’s ‘point of no return’ Nine emergency calls made


POLICE took 49 minutes to re- spond to a dad’s emergency call where his son lay dying. Call logs show the first 999 call


from the family home at Larkspur Close took place at 6.54pm, with an officer arriving at 7.43pm. The inquest heard ambulance


crews were not allowed into the property until an officer was on site due to the nature of the call. Mr Betts Snr had been restrain-


ing his son on the floor for about 40 minutes when police arrived. The inquest heard family mem-


bers and neighbours had all called emergency services. Mr Betts Snr could be heard on


the 999 call shouting: “Tell them to be quick.” Evidence showed nine separate


calls had been made, with three sometimes overlapping at one time.


Neighbours grow together


RESIDENTS are coming together to create an outdoor space for all to enjoy. Vincent Jasper and John Rose


have joined forces to transform the community garden at their local day centre at Titchfield Close, Maidstone. Mr Jasper said: “After chatting to


the other residents at Titchfield Close, John and I started thinking about a garden project for our


area. We wanted to give our neigh- bours the opportunity to grow their own vegetables and plants so decided to build some raised planters in the community gar- den.” They applied and secured for


some local funding from a housing association. Vincent and John are pictured working on one of the garden’s planters.


19


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