Police cleared over fall death of drugs suspect

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Police officers had no part in the death of a handcuffed man who plummeted eight storeys from a tower block after being arrested for heroin possession, an inquest was told yesterday.

Lee Highdale said Kevin Byrne, 23, had called at his flat in Regal Towers, Croxteth, Liverpool, as plainclothes officers were searching it for drugs on 25 August last year.

Mr Byrne was searched and arrested after being found with a wrap of heroin. He fled down 16 flights of stairs and was arrested by police at a bungalow, the Liverpool inquest was told.

He was brought back to the flat where he was handcuffed and sat in an armchair near a window as officers continued their search. The window was open after officers had over-ridden a safety catch to allow air into the hot room. Mr Highdale said he was sitting in the lounge with Mr Byrne and two police officers. "He appeared resigned to the fact that he had been caught. He was calm ...

"He stood up quite slowly and stood on the stereo. He put his head and shoulders through the window, holding on to the bottom of the window frame after which his legs came out as well. He was then hanging by both hands from the metal frame at the bottom of the window. He looked straight at me. He didn't call out but he did look at me and it was as though he knew he was dead.

"There were two police officers in the room when he fell to his death. Neither officer played any part in him going out of the window. What happened was as much a shock to them as it was to me."

The inquest continues today.