Joy Gardner was yesterday described as "the most violent female I have ever encountered in my service" by one of the police officers involved in the struggle that preceded her death.
Constable Brian Adamson told the Old Bailey that Mrs Gardner, an illegal immigrant about to be deported, bit him on the arm as five police officers tried to control her at her flat in Hornsey, north London.
"The bite was extremely hard and very painful" said Constable Adamson, one of two Hornsey-based officers who accompanied the three defendants accused of killing Mrs Gardner.
Detective Sergeant Linda Evans, 42, Constable Colin Whitby, 48, and Constable John Burrell, 43, all deny manslaughter. Mrs Gardner, 40, died four days after being gagged by the officers during the violent struggle in July 1993.
More than 13ft of adhesive tape was wound around Mrs Gardner's head as she grappled with the five officers.
The prosecution alleges that she died from brain damage resulting from asphyxiation caused by the gag, and that the defendants' action was dangerous and unlawful.
Yesterday Constable Adamson said that he and Constable Louise Brooker- Carey were assigned to help the defendants to carry out the deportation. Mrs Gardner barred the door of hre flat and the police cut the security chain and forced their way in.
Constable Adamson said: "Joy Gardner was still agitated and shouting and screaming and waving her arms around. One of the things she screamed was `I will kill myself before I will go back to Jamaica'."
Mrs Gardner's young son Graham, who was in pyjamas, was crying and constables Adamson and Brooker-Carey took him to his bedroom to dress him. Hearing a loud crash Constable Adamson returned to the living room to find Mrs Gardner had taken off her T-shirt and was naked above the waist and was "fighting and struggling with the other officers".
He said: "I took hold of her right arm because it was her right arm that was free. I shouted for Louise to come in and Joy Gardner bit my left arm causing me to release her."
As Constable Brooker-Carey handcuffed Mrs Gardner's right arm someone shouted "deck her" and everyone fell to the ground. The two Hornsey officers were hanging on to Mrs Gardner's legs and the three defendants to her top half.
Constable Adamson said: "PC Whitby then put a body belt around her while she continued to struggle and the handcuffs which were attached to the body belt were placed on her hands. PC Whitby then put restraining belts on her thighs and ankles.
"After the belts, tape was then placed around her mouth by I believe it was PC Whitby. I believe he started at the back of the head and then went round the mouth. It was in between the teeth. She was biting the tape and still shouting or screaming."
The two Hornsey officers and Constable Whitby then went to Graham Gardner's bedroom. Constable Adamson said: "I heard PC Burrell say `Colin come in' and I followed PC Whitby into the lounge where I believe PC Burrell was kneeling beside Joy Gardner on the floor. PC Whitby knelt down and said `I can't either'."
John Bevan, for the prosecution, said: "It was obvious that PC Burrell said he could not find a pulse and PC Whitby said I can't either." Constable Adamson replied: "Yes."
Constable Whitby unwound the tape and the officers tried to revive Mrs Gardner while an ambulance was called.
The case continues today.