Ronald Robinson: Lancashire Police officers did ‘all they could’ to help save Blackpool man’s life as he choked to death on packet of drugs, IOPC finds

An investigation into the death of man who suffocated on a bag of drugs while being arrested found police “acted in line with procedures”.

By Sean Gleaves
Monday, 27th June 2022, 4:40 pm
Updated Monday, 27th June 2022, 4:46 pm

Ronald Robinson was pulled over in Knowle Avenue at around 5.30pm on March 11, 2021 after the car he was driving in was reported stolen.

As the 56-year-old exited the vehicle, he attempted to swallow a 4cm by 7cm bag which contained packets of heroin, crack cocaine and an unidentified brown substance.

The bag became lodged in his airway and he collapsed shortly after being detained following a struggle.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation into the death of Ronald Robinson found officers "did all they could to help save his life" (Picture: Robinson family hand-out)

The officers responded by requesting an ambulance, removing his handcuffs and providing medical assistance through chest compressions, the use of a defibrillator, and an oxygen mask.

Mr Robinson, of Queens Promenade, was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after 6.30pm.

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The consultant pathologist concluded that the cause of death was acute upper airways obstruction caused by the package becoming lodged in Mr Robinson’s airway.

Following the incident, investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct attended and conducted a detailed examination of the scene.

During the investigation, the IOPC obtained witness statements from police officers and dashboard camera footage from the police vehicle.

They also issued a witness appeal, obtained accounts from members of the public and analysed information contained in toxicology and forensic reports.

An inquest which concluded on Friday (June 24) determined Ronald Robinson died as a result of misadventure.

IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said they found the “officers’ actions and decisions were in line with their training, policies and procedures.”

“This was a tragic incident in which a man lost his life and our thoughts remain with his family, friends and all those affected,” he added.

“It is our role to investigate all the circumstances surrounding the death of someone who dies following or during contact with the police and in this case we found officers responded swiftly to a distressing situation and made significant efforts to save Mr Robinson once it became clear he was unwell.

“Evidence gathered during our investigation was shared with the Coroner to help inform the inquest into Mr Robinson’s death, and hopefully helped to answer any outstanding questions his family may have had.”