8 April 2019

Before HM Senior Coroner Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray
Essex Coroner’s Court
1 April to 4 April 2019

Raymond Knight from Grays, Essex died shortly after detention at Grays Police Station, following arrest by Essex Police. The inquest concluded on 4 April, finding the cause of death was cocaine toxicity and returning a short form conclusion. Raymond was 55 years old when he died at Basildon Hospital on 19 November 2017, after suffering from a seizure at the police station.

Raymond’s car had been stopped by police earlier that evening in South Ockenden, when the number plate was recognised by police systems. An officer who attended carried out a roadside search of Raymond’s outer clothing, whilst another officer searched his car. Drugs were found in the car search and Raymond was arrested.

No drugs were found during the search of Raymond’s outer clothing. He was then handcuffed and placed in the rear nearside passenger seat of a police vehicle and awaited the arrival of an escort officer. Whilst waiting in the back of the police vehicle, he informed an officer that his heart was beating quickly. His family believe that during the period of time when he was alone in the police vehicle, Raymond took a fatal quantity of cocaine.

Raymond was then escorted to the police station. During this journey he informed officers that he felt unwell. On arrival at the police station, Raymond again informed an officer that his heart felt as though it was beating quickly. Whilst in the holding cell, Raymond fell to the floor and suffered from a seizure. He was attended to by a healthcare professional, police officers and paramedics and was subsequently taken to Basildon Hospital where he died.

The jury heard evidence of the following:

  • Whilst Raymond was being treated in the holding area, a cigarette tin found on the holding cell floor was seized as evidence. The tin was subsequently found to contain two paper wraps of cocaine.

  • Whilst at Basildon Hospital, numerous items were seized by officers from Raymond’s clothing including a mobile phone, wallet, and a ripped piece of plastic bag from his outer jacket which was later found to have traces of cocaine and his DNA.

  • A subsequent search of the police vehicle found a ripped piece of plastic bag in the rear nearside passenger footwell which was found to have traces of cocaine and Raymond’s DNA. Subsequent investigations into Raymond’s death failed to conduct a forensic examination as to whether the two ripped pieces of plastic could be mechanically matched.

  • Despite Crime Scene Investigators attending to Raymond’s holding cell after he had been taken to Basildon Hospital, they failed to locate a grip sealed bag measuring 1.5 x 2 inches, found, the following day, under the door of the holding cell by a cleaner, containing a cutting agent and traces of Raymond’s DNA.

  • Expert evidence was heard from the post mortem pathologist who opined there was a possibility that the fatal dose of cocaine was taken close to the time of death because the level of cocaine exceeded the level of its metabolite, but she could not indicate the precise time of ingestion.

The Coroner directed the jury as a matter of law that due to an insufficiency of evidence they were not allowed to pronounce upon any alleged inadequacies, failures or missed opportunities by police officers, and were told they should not attempt to conduct a forensic analysis as to whether or not there was a match between the pieces of plastic identified above. The jury returned a short form conclusion of ‘drug-related’.

Following the conclusion of the inquest, the Coroner sent a statutory Prevention of Future Deaths report to The Chief Constable of Essex Police in relation to her concerns over the position of CCTV cameras with sight into the individual holding cells. The camera did not have a clear view of inside the holding cell and so could not see what exactly happened to Raymond.

Essex Police have agreed with the Independent Office of Police Conduct that the officer responsible for the roadside search of Raymond may have breached standards of professional behaviour in respect of the search and detention of Raymond. A misconduct hearing is to be held in due course.

Teresa Knight, wife of Raymond Knight and Susan Wright, daughter of Raymond Knight said:

Raymond was a loving husband, father, son, brother and grandfather, who was a kind and caring person, and we believe that had he been searched and observed properly, he would be with us today.

We feel Ray and his family have been let down by the inquest process. The purpose of the inquest was to dispel suspicion regarding the circumstances surrounding his death and we believe the inquest has failed in this regard. The jury were prevented from making findings about whether there were failures on the part of Essex Police.

We remain concerned that several items belonging to Raymond, which were not recovered during the roadside search, were later found in the holding cell and at the hospital. We have no criticism of the emergency medical treatment provided to Ray by the police, once he had a seizure.



For more information contact Lucy McKay on email or 020 7263 1111

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Manveer Bhullar of ITN Solicitors and Chris Williams of Garden Court Chambers.

The other interested persons represented at the inquest were the IOPC, Essex Police, G4S, and PC Jack Trower who conducted the roadside search of Raymond.