Dad found dead after woman he allegedly attacked with hammer called 999
A man choked to death on his own vomit after allegedly hitting his girlfriend over the head with a hammer, an inquest has heard.
Police were called to the Blackpool flat where Graham John Kent lived after a neighbour rang 999 at midnight on August 2, 2021.
The neighbour said she could see a woman, covered in blood, crawling around on the floor half naked.
When officers arrived they found Mr Kent’s girlfriend, Jennifer, with a head injury which she claimed he had inflicted with a hammer.
Believing dad-of-two Mr Kent, 37, had barricaded himself alone inside the flat, police waited for back-up before attempting to force entry.
When they got inside, at around 12.30am, they found the forklift truck driver on the floor not breathing, Lancs Live reports.
Police started CPR which was continued by paramedics but Mr Kent was pronounced dead at 1.27am.
An inquest held on Monday at Blackpool Town Hall heard that his family believed that had police forced entry as soon as they arrived at his flat, then Mr Kent may have survived.
Senior Coroner Alan Wilson said: “This man resided with his partner and they both lived a chaotic lifestyle and abused alcohol and drugs.
“Neighbours heard banging and screaming and witnessed Jennifer crawling outside, naked and calling for help.
“She said he had hit her on the head with a hammer.”
The inquest heard that when police arrived at the scene they thought they could hear furniture being moved which led them to suspect Mr Kent, who was born in Liverpool, was barricading himself inside.
Police officers bearing shields arrived 17 minutes later and forced entry and found Mr Kent unresponsive in the bedroom.
“They found him led on his back not breathing,” the coroner added.
“Some dark brown liquid came from his nose and mouth.”
The inquest heard that Mr Kent’s girlfriend Jennifer was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital where she underwent neurosurgery for a fractured skull and bleed on the brain.
She was later arrested on suspicion of murder after police had initially thought Mr Kent’s death was caused by an injury.
But this was later ruled out by Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour and she was released without charge.
The post mortem concluded the medical cause of death was inhalation of stomach contents due to cocaine toxicity.
Mr Kent’s family asked if he could have survived if police had forced entry earlier.
Dr Armour’s report said death would have been ‘very rapid’ and added: “The underlying cause was cocaine toxicity which caused a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
“Once Mr Kent collapsed and inhaled his vomit death was inevitable.”
Mr Kent’s family also asked why the first officers on the scene couldn’t have just gone in with their Tasers for protection, but Temporary Chief Inspector Matthew Sanders from Lancashire Constabulary explained that the device is only effective from a distance and not when used close proximity.
“I think they got the balance right between protecting the public and maximising the safety of the officers,” he said.
“The actions were proportionate and necessary and those I would have expected to be taken.”
Returning a conclusion of drug-related death and responding to Mr Kent’s family’s concerns the coroner said: “There is no evidence that any actions [by the police officers] contributed to or caused Graham’s death.
“I accept Temporary Chief Inspector Sanders’ evidence that they were reasonable and rational decisions.”