Blood clot victim awarded £310,000 for police blunder

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The Independent Online

A man who was mistakenly arrested for being drunk when he was suffering from a blood clot on his brain has received £310,000 in compensation from a police force.

David Powell, 44, from Headingley, Leeds, was left severely disabled because of the failure to give him prompt treatment for his condition. He is wheelchair-bound and receives 24-hour care at a North Lincolnshire nursing home as a result of the incident.

Mr Powell, who has a 21-year-old son, was arrested on 17 July 1998, outside his home, after police officers were informed of a man lying at the bottom of some steps.

His solicitor, Iftikhar Manzoor, said four officers arrested Mr Powell, who they thought "appeared drunk" because he was disorientated and unsteady on his feet, even though there was no smell of any intoxicants.

Despite his head wound, he was taken to Weetwood police station in Leeds, where he was found collapsed in his cell 90 minutes later. The blood clot was diagnosed after he was taken to Leeds General Infirmary. The damage to his brain has left Mr Powell, who was previously working as a driver, with very limited mobility and he can only eat emulsified food. He is also blind in one eye and has difficulty communicating.

Mr Manzoor, from Irwin Mitchell law firm, said medical evidence suggests that Mr Powell would have led a normal life with only minor disabilities, had he been given treatment more quickly.

"The central allegation is this was a case of missed opportunities. The police had two occasions to take Mr Powell to hospital or get medical attention. The first opportunity was when he was arrested - he should have been taken to hospital immediately. Then, once at the police station, the bare minimum they could have done was call the police surgeon so he could be examined. As a result, he collapsed again and then he was rushed to hospital," he said.

Mr Powell's mother, Barbara Powell, said she was "appalled" by the events.

"I sincerely hope lessons can be learnt from my son's tragic case because no member of the public or a mother would want to be put through this," she said.

West Yorkshire Police, which made the out-of-court settlement, issued a statement extending its sympathies to Mr Powell.

It read: "What has occurred is above all else a personal tragedy for Mr Powell and, while financial provision cannot return to Mr Powell his health, it is our belief that this settlement should enable him to be appropriately cared for."

The statement added that the matter had been fully investigated under the supervision of the independent Police Complaints Authority, but there was insufficient evidence for any disciplinary action against any officer.