Family pay tribute to custody death woman

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The Independent Online

The family of a woman who died in police custody after being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting paid tribute to her today, describing the mother-of-one as a "a kind-hearted girl".

Sharon McLaughlin, 32, was found unconscious in her cell at Worthing police custody centre in Durrington, West Sussex, on May 16.

Paramedics attended but she was pronounced dead half an hour later. A post-mortem examination was carried out but the cause of death has yet to be confirmed.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating her death due to her involvement with police.

In a statement released by the IPCC, her family said she was dependent on drugs, but added: "This terrible addiction never changed her kind nature and the love for her daughter and family."

It described her death as "another sad example of the destructive nature of drugs for its users and their families".

The statement continued: "Sharon was a kind-hearted girl who was able to light up any room with her presence and infectious smile.

"She left us with so many treasured memories that will be never forgotten.

"The family are determined that the circumstances surrounding this incident are fully investigated in order to establish whether Sharon was given the duty of care she deserved; we have full confidence that the Independent Police Complaints Commission will get the answers to the many questions surrounding this tragedy."

Mike Franklin, IPCC commissioner for the South East, said: "When a person dies while in the care of the state, it is important that the actions of all those involved are scrutinised.

"A young woman has died and we need to look at whether or not anything at all could have been done to prevent that."

Sussex Police said Miss McLaughlin, from Worthing, had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in the town centre the previous day.