THE wife of a Westwood landscape gardener who died just hours after being restrained by police has described the final moments of her husband’s life.
Victor Massey, 54, of Palmerston Street, Westwood, died on August 8, 2006, following a disturbance in a bathroom at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, when police used CS gas to restrain him, an inquest was told on Tuesday.
He was being treated in hospital for pancreatitis and was put on oxygen to aid his breathing.
But before the incident his family was told that he was making progress and might be released within days.
At the start of the inquest in Nottingham, his wife, Jane Massey, told the jury her husband was a marathon runner for many years until a knee injury curtailed this hobby in 1992.
After initially suffering chest pains in 2004, he became unwell again in August 2006, just three weeks before his daughter’s wedding.
He was admitted to hospital suffering from stomach pains and vomiting, and was diagnosed with pancreatitis after blood tests.
After treatment, Mrs Massey thought he was getting better but was concerned over her husband’s hallucinating, which she said was not in his medical notes, and his switch of medication from morphine to tramadol.
On the night of August 7, Mr Massey had seemed agitated because of the actions of another patient who was constantly disturbing people.
“He was agitated and panicky, and kept saying he wanted to come home,” said Mrs Massey.
“He said ‘Why did you send me here? Don’t you know they call this Killer Mill? Nobody comes here, they don’t get out’. So I kept asking the nurses (about the patient making a disturbance), but they would not move him.”
Mrs Massey returned home but shortly before midnight was called back to hospital because her husband had locked himself in a shower.
“There was a commotion outside the hospital when we arrived,” she said.
“When we got to his ward I noticed his bed had been stripped and re-made like he had never been there.”
Mrs Massey, who arrived with her 15-year-old son Tom, said she saw her husband on the floor being restrained by police officers.
“He was lying on the floor, all I could see was black trousers and shoes. I told the nurse he had not left the bed for six days.
“I said ‘He cannot withstand this’. And she said CS gas had been extinguished. I saw him lying down handcuffed behind his back, but he had not been laid flat for six days because of his breathing.
“Police said he was going mental and smashing windows, and one of them said ‘I CS gassed him’.
“But why would you CS gas a man who was on oxygen?”
Mrs Massey said she saw doctors running down the corridor.
She added: “Then I ran all the way down the corridor and said ‘you have killed him and I will fight this’.”
Mrs Massey was taken to see her husband’s body after he had been pronounced dead.
Speaking at the inquest on Wednesday, Jonathan Hill, a healthcare assistant, said he believed police had also struck Mr Massey with a baton after the CS gas had been discharged.
Dr Krishnamurthy Badrinath told the jury that Mr Massey had the most severe form of pancreatitis and he also had septicemia – a serious life-threatening condition.
He also said he would have expected hospital staff to have given the police information about Mr Massey’s condition when they arrived.
“He was, medically, in a very fragile position and the nurses would have known that,” he said.
He also added that he thought the pancreatitis was caused by gallstones and not excess consumption of alcohol which had previously been implied to Mrs Massey by hospital staff. Dr Badrinath said he was not aware of the hallucinations but Mr Massey could have become confused from a combination of pancreatitis, septicaemia, lack of oxygen and drugs.
When asked about Mr Massey’s behaviour in the hour before he died, he said: “An extremely agitated patient might act in a very unexpected manner.”
Care assistant Tracey Seldon said that other patients had been terrified by Mr Massey’s behaviour.
She said that staff had followed Mr Massey down the corridor but he had already locked himself in the bathroom and was shouting ‘Get the police’.
She did not speak to security staff or police about Mr Massey’s condition and could not remember if anyone else had.
The inquest is expected to last up to three weeks.