Police officers restrained teen with learning disabilities in Southmead Hospital before he died, court hears

Thomas Oliver McGowan had been brought to hospital after he suffered a simple partial seizure

An 18-year-old boy was restrained in hospital by several police officers after he was brought in by ambulance, a court has heard.

Thomas Oliver McGowan – known as Oliver – had been taken by ambulance to Southmead Hospital on October 22, 2016 after he suffered a simple partial seizure.

The teenager, who developed epilepsy, mild autism and cerebal palsy after getting meningitis at three weeks old, was “very scared and agitated” as officers stood around him in the A&E.

He died in hospital on November 11 after complications with his care.

An inquest into his death heard three police officers had escorted him after he was taken to hospital, making him “very scared and anxious”.

In his family statement, Oliver’s dad, Thomas, said: “Due to Oliver’s autism, he found being around new people difficult. My wife approached the department ward sister and explained that Oliver had autism, anxiety and epilepsy.”

They told the sister she would need to make “reasonable adjustments” and take into account Oliver’s autism and intellectual disability, and wanted people to talk to him in a calm voice.

But his family said the opposite happened.

“We told her the amount of people surrounding Oliver, all talking to him at once and demanding answers was confusing and upsetting for him and that he needed space,” Mr McGowan said.

“We explained to her that the environment could be reasonably adjusted to provide Oliver with a side room, one person talking to him at a time in a clam voice, he needed language to be broken down into small chunks and he needed time to process what was being said to him.

“Also, the use of humour would de-escalate Oliver’s agitation.”

He was only 18 years old (Image: Family)

His parents told the court Oliver was “in and out” of a seizure and was struggling with the crowd around him.

“We were concerned that police officers’ constantly holding onto Oliver’s arms or standing shoulder to shoulder with him was intimidating,” Mr McGowan said.

“My wife told the ward sister that Oliver would become very scared if he was restrained.”

Dr Luke Canham, the specialist registrar in Neurology who saw Oliver when he first arrived at Southmead, was asked if he saw police officers throw Oliver onto a bed.

He told Avon Coroners Court he saw police officers restraining him after a “loud verbal interaction”.

He said he had become concerned if Oliver should have received “increased levels of restraint”, and spoke to the hospital site manager about it.

And while he said he was “not happy” with the escalation, he added: “I’m a neurologist. I have now expertise in physical restraint.”

Mr McGowan they returned to Oliver’s side after speaking with Dr Canham.

Oliver was a bright boy who was training to be a paralympian (Image: Family)

“When we returned to my son, we were very concerned to see that he was surrounded by several police officers, security guards, nurses and doctors,” Mr McGowan added.

“Oliver was sat on the bed and the staff were all standing up and surrounding him. Everybody was talking to him at once; we could see that he was in and out of seizure.

“He was conscious and able to communicate, although confused and disorientated.”

Shortly after the incident, Oliver was intubated and questions about his care were made.

He died on November 11 after a brain injury.

The inquest continues.

Source: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/police-officers-restrained-teen-learning-1465109

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