Police cells man 'died after drugs overdose'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A MAN held on remand in police cells died after being prescribed a high-dose cocktail of powerful drugs by two police surgeons, a court was told yesterday.

Graham Rawlinson, 23, a registered heroin addict, but said to be fit and healthy, became 'zombie-like' after the doctors treated him for 10 days at Grimsby police station, Peter Birts QC, for the prosecution, told Nottingham Crown Court. He died of pulmonary oedema (water on the lungs) at Grimsby Hospital after his family expressed concern to police about his condition.

The doctors, Churlam Salim, 54, of High Street, Waltham, near Grimsby, and Dhirendra Saha, 54, of Cumberland Avenue, Grimsby, deny manslaughter.

Mr Birts said people who saw Mr Rawlinson at Grimsby police station were shocked by his appearance. 'He was changed into a zombie-like figure staggering about, unsteady on his feet, with his eyes glazed. He became unable to walk and was incoherent.'

Mr Rawlinson, who lived in Manchester with his girlfriend and their young son, was being held on remand at Strangeways before being moved to police cells following the prison riot in April 1990.

He was held for eight weeks at police stations in Lancashire - and weaned off his heroin addiction. He was then moved to Grimsby, where the two doctors prescribed tranquillisers - 160 milligrammes of temazepam, which has a maximum safe daily dose of 60mg, and 80mg of diazepam, maximum safe dose 30mg.

Mr Rawlinson was also given largactil, an extremely powerful sedative which boosted the effects of the other drugs, and methadone, which is used in treating heroin addicts.

'It was a story of gross over-prescription. It was unlawful killing by reckless or gross negligence,' Mr Birts said.

The trial continues today.

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