Man found hanged had not been in struggle, inquest told

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The Independent Online

One of the first police officers to investigate the death of Jason McGowan, the second black man from the same family to be found hanged in Telford, insisted yesterday that there was no evidence to suggest third-party involvement.

The 20-year-old was discovered suspended by his belt from railings only a few minutes walk from where he had been celebrating Millennium Eve with his new wife. His death – coming only six months after his uncle Errol McGowan, 34, was found hanged – shocked his family and the community in the Shropshire town.

Yesterday, on the third day of the inquest into McGowan's death, Detective Inspector Philip Pledger, of West Mercia police, explained that he was at the scene a couple of hours after the body was found on New Year's Day 2000.

There were, he said, no marks on the young man's body, suggesting he had not been involved in any confrontation or scuffle. This was backed up by his neat clothes and the undisturbed surrounding area.

But the officer admitted that he had not fingerprinted the railings where the body was found as he did not think it was necessary.

Later Peter Acland, a Home Office pathologist, said he had not found any scarring on Mr McGowan's wrists to suggest he had been restrained or forced to defend himself.

Dr Acland dismissed the suggestion that Mr McGowan could have been rendered unconscious by either a sleeper hold or alcohol. While the young man had been drinking, the alcohol in his blood was not enough to make him unaware of his surroundings.

He gave the cause of death as vasovagal inhibition due to hanging, adding it was usually associated with people in an excited state who then have a sudden traumatic pressure in their neck.

The inquest continues.