A GP who was also a part-time police surgeon and prison doctor faced trial for manslaughter.
Over two years before, he had been called to the local police station to examine a detainee suffering from drug dependency and a head injury. Based upon the only information available to him, the history given by the detainee, the doctor prescribed medication to combat the effects of withdrawal.
The following day, when the detainee became distressed, sweaty and shaky, the dosage was increased. Later the same day, following an appearance in the magistrates’ court, further medication was given.
Thirteen hours later, the doctor was called to see him again, as he was unrousable. Pulse, blood pressure and respiration were noted to be normal and stable. He was placed in the recovery position with instructions that observations be taken every 15 minutes.
During the night, he woke up and asked for a glass of water. The observation chart showed that observations stopped two hours after this request. Five hours later at approximately 9.30am he was found lifeless in his cell. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
A year later the doctor was charged with manslaughter on the basis of the serum level of the drugs that he had prescribed. At the conclusion of a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
The total cost of the defence, paid for by MPS, was more than £175,000.