A POLICE officer involved in a “chaotic” drugs search of a man who suffered a cardiac arrest was advised to remove part of his statement by a solicitor, an inquest heard.

Habib Ullah, 39, died on July 3, 2008 after being restrained by officers in High Wycombe who were trying to force a package of drugs out of his mouth, Buckinghamshire's coroner heard yesterday.

Detective Constable Richard Bazeley was one of three officers restraining Mr Ullah, who he believed was trying to swallow a package of drugs.

He said he saw colleague PC Christopher Pomery gripping Mr Ullah's throat, adding: “It's not a trained technique, I don't know what he was trying to do.”

When asked why this was not in his statement, made the day after the incident, DC Bazeley said: “That particular point I know I was advised to take out...I don't know why. I didn't like the idea of doing it to be honest.

“I thought it's probably going to look suspicious – exactly how it's probably looking now... but it was professional advice.”

He said the chief inspector, Stephanie Cook, was present to “ensure our welfare” as the officers involved compiled their statements for the Independent Police Complaints Commission in a computer room.

He said she did not advise them on what to include in their statements, but this was done by a solicitor.

The inquest at the Evreham Centre in Iver started on Monday and is expected to last eight days. It heard how Mr Ullah, a father-of-three from Slough, stopped breathing after a struggle with officers in a car park in Sharrow Vale.

DC Bazeley said he had recognised Mr Ullah and another passenger, Emma Forbes, in a car and was aware of intelligence suggesting they were involved in the supply of Class A drugs.

He said he struggled with two other officers to restrain Mr Ullah in the search and was concerned he might overdose by swallowing a package of drugs.

He said: “It was clear his intention was to prevent us looking into his mouth and opening it. I gave him a loud and clear verbal demand to 'spit it out or you could overdose and die'.”

He said Mr Ullah was 'taken to the ground' by the officers but continued to struggle and at one point “growled” and “had the strength of ten men”.

As he pushed up from the floor another officer shouted 'break his arm', which DC Bazeley said he understood to mean 'break the lock' on his arms, jurors heard.

But he added: “That's a very unfortunate choice of word. I fully understand why someone would perceive that as a horrific thing for a police officer to say.”

DC Bazeley did not consider the risk that Mr Ullah may have got the package lodged in his throat, he said. He also told jurors he has had no training about searching a suspect's mouth.

The jury heard that several 'approved' techniques were used by officers to try and force Mr Ullah to comply with their orders. Though Sean Horstead, representing Mr Ullah's family, suggested an initial “back slap” by one officer could have caused the package to become lodged in his throat.

Mr Horstead said the proceeding struggle would have put “enormous pressure” on Mr Ullah, who may have been fighting to remove the package, rather than conceal it.

DC Bazeley said this was possible, but he did not believe this was the case. He said Mr Ullah eventually went “limp” and officers stood back.

He said they did not perform CPR on Mr Ullah while waiting for the ambulance as it was thought he was conscious and breathing.

DC Bazeley said he checked again just before a paramedic arrived and found Mr Ullah was not breathing.

The inquest also heard a statement from Mr Ullah's wife, Mussarat Habib. She said they had moved to England from Pakistan in 1997 and “had a very good life together”.

She added: “I was not aware of my husband's use of drugs before he died. My husband showed no signs of addiction and never took any drugs in the home....

“I've been told that another woman called Emma Forbes was in a relationship with him. I didn't know about this. He would come and go, but he only told me as much as he wanted to...

“Now he's gone and life is nothing without him. I can't see the future clearly and I worry about my children and their future.”

The inquest continues. For previous stories on the inquest see link below.