'Inexplicable' that Pontins guest was restrained on floor, inquest told

Paul Gladwell, from Colchester, died at Pontins Pakefield

Paul Gladwell, a Colchester dad-of-three, died at Pontins in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, on Valentine's Day 2017 - Credit: Archant/Supplied by family

A use-of-force expert has told an inquest it was "inexplicable" that a father-of-three was restrained on the floor following an altercation at Pontins Pakefield.

Paul Reynolds, 38, died in hospital two days after being involved in an incident with another guest at the resort, near Lowestoft, on Valentine's Day 2017.

Mr Reynolds, who was from Colchester, had been on holiday at the park with his partner Carrie Bennett and their three sons.

An inquest into his death opened at Suffolk Coroners' Court last month and had previously heard how security staff had restrained Mr Reynolds on his front for 10 minutes in the park's ballroom while waiting for police to arrive.

Eric Baskind, a physical restraint consultant, told the eleventh day of the inquest on Tuesday that he had read Pontins' guide for security officers, which he said permits people to be held on the ground in "violent incidents".

Paul Reynolds, from Colchester

Paul Reynolds was restrained by security staff following an altercation - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY/PA WIRE

However, Mr Baskind told area coroner Jacqueline Devonish that physical restraint should only ever be used as a "last resort" and said the staff members' use of force with Mr Reynolds was "not even remotely close" to being warranted.

He said: "We know taking someone to the ground has significant risks. This incident was not a very violent incident."

After viewing CCTV footage of the altercation, Mr Baskind also refuted Pontins' service support officer Timothy Cator-Durrant's claims that he had not put his arm around Mr Reynolds' neck to restrain him.

He described the actions of the staff as "excessive and dangerous" and said they fell below the standards expected of reasonable security guards.

Most Read

Mr Baskind added: "What I saw was Mr Cator-Durrant putting his arm around Mr Reynolds' neck, therefore pulling him backwards. There was no need to take Mr Reynolds to the ground.

"It is, in my view, inexplicable that he wasn't brought to his feet. The door staff could and should have dealt with it in a totally different way."

Home Office pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift conducted a post-mortem examination of Mr Reynolds' body and said he found bruising on his neck, back and shoulder.

Dr Swift said there was "no evidence of natural disease" that could have caused Mr Reynolds' death.

A toxicology report found that he had 134mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

Dr Swift told the inquest that the cause of death had been recorded as complications arising from restraint, with links to Mr Reynolds' obesity, alcohol consumption and potential obstruction of airways.

However, he was unable to say which one specific factor was "more important than another".

The jury has been released after hearing evidence over more than two weeks and is set to be recalled to the court on Monday.

The inquest continues.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter