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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Police 'neglect' contributed to death
Jamie Burton
Jamie Burton died after taking a heroin overdose
Officers could have done more to save the life of a Cornishman who died in a police cell, an inquest has found.

Jamie Burton, 23, from Newquay, died two years ago after a heroin overdose.

An inquest jury in Launceston found drug abuse responsible for his death, contributed to by systematic neglect from the police.

Mr Burton died after being taken to the police custody centre in Newquay in May 2001.

The inquest heard Mr Burton took drugs on the evening of his death after meeting friends.

But he suffered a bad reaction and was taken to a car park where the police and an ambulance were called.

The car park in Newquay where Jamie was taken ill
Jamie Burton's friends called the police to a car park
Both services gave conflicting accounts of what happened, but the police say they were not told he had taken heroin that evening.

Mr Burton was observed in his cell through the night, but not roused every 30 minutes as per police guidelines.

He was found dead at 0500 BST the next morning and it is not known how long he had been dead.

Mr Burton's mother, Jayne Walters, welcomed the verdict and has not ruled out further legal action against the police.

She said the police's handling of the case was unacceptable.

Her lawyer, Mark Scott, said: "The inquest found there were systemic failures by the police to follow basic, simple legal requirements designed to protect the lives of vulnerable individuals.

Jayne Walters and her lawyer, Mark Scott
Jayne Walters is considering whether to take legal action
"Jayne Walters hopes that lessons can be learnt from her son's death by Devon and Cornwall Police so that another family does not have to go through what she has."

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary expressed regret at what happened and said new procedures were in place.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Pearce said: "Since Jamie's death we have totally reviewed our systems and many recommendations have been made and have already been put into place.

"Indeed, when the Avon and Somerset Constabulary carried out the review on behalf of the Police Complaints Authority, they made recommendations which have been immediately implemented."

Disciplinary action against the officers on duty that night has not been ruled out until the force has studied fully the evidence which came before the four-week long inquest.

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