Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Dyfed-Powys Police officers acted appropriately prior to death of man in Newtown
An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the death of a man in Newtown found Dyfed-Powys Police officers acted appropriately when faced with a medical emergency.
Dylan Garbe-Ashton, aged 20, was detained by officers at a petrol station shortly before midnight on Friday 22 November 2019. He was taken to Newtown Police Station by police van arriving at 12.05 am and was at the custody desk when he became unwell and collapsed five minutes later.
An ambulance was called, and officers carried out resuscitation for around half an hour prior to the arrival of paramedics at 12.42 am. Mr Garbe-Ashton was taken to hospital where sadly, he died later that day.
The IOPC investigation found that police had legitimate reason for detaining Mr Garbe-Ashton when they encountered him in a vehicle with friends at a petrol station in Newtown as he was wanted on a Magistrates’ Court warrant for failing to comply with the terms of a community order.
CCTV footage indicates that Mr Garbe-Ashton was compliant during the arrest and that the police officers did not use any force against him. There is no indication from footage that Mr Garbe-Ashton was unwell at any point either at the petrol station or on arrival at the custody suite, and when beginning the booking-in process.
During booking-in, Mr Garbe-Ashton was seen to retch a number of times before suddenly having a seizure and falling backwards hitting his head on the floor. He then appeared to be fitting and officers immediately called for an ambulance. Over the next 30 minutes, police officers carried out emergency first aid including CPR with the assistance of a defibrillator under phone instruction by an ambulance operator.
The IOPC investigation found no evidence that any officer acted in a manner that would justify any disciplinary proceedings.
Accounts obtained by the IOPC later indicated that Mr Garbe-Ashton had swallowed cocaine at the petrol station on seeing the arrival of police officers.
Our investigation gathered pathologist and other forensic results which informed our findings and were made available to the Coroner and interested parties.
An inquest at Welshpool Coroner’s Court recently (22 September) returned a conclusion of death by misadventure.
IOPC Director for Wales, Catrin Evans, recently said:
“I send my sincere condolences again to the family and friends of Mr Garbe-Ashton at this time for their sad loss. This was a traumatic incident in police custody for all involved and it was right that we carried out an independent investigation into the circumstances. Our investigation found that officers in the custody suite acted appropriately when faced with the medical emergency and made efforts to try to save Mr Garbe-Ashton’s life.”
The IOPC investigation began following a referral from Dyfed-Powys Police and concluded in November 2020. Investigators examined CCTV, obtained accounts from the arresting officers and those who carried out first aid, and the car Mr Garbe-Ashton was travelling in was examined. A post mortem, toxicology tests and an expert review of medical evidence were carried out. Following the investigation, we shared our report with the Coroner, Mr Garbe-Ashton’s family, and the police force.
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