AN INQUEST was dramatically halted when it was suggested that a mentally ill man may have been killed by drugs used to sedate him.

Assistant coroner John Pollard adjourned the inquest into the death of Nicholas Gleaves who was sectioned days before he died in Royal Bolton Hospital.

It was revealed that an anti-psychotic drug administered following an incident at Middlebrook Retail Park where Nicholas Gleaves was being aggressive towards staff and damaging cars may have caused fatal clotting.

A security guard at Middlebrook struck the man on the head with a “metal torch” before police arrived and he was restrained with handcuffs and leg straps, Bolton Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

Police had been called to the incident on February 15 minutes after a separate call from his mother that a man with mental health issues was smashing up a house in Horwich.

PC Nicola Hilton said: “When speaking with Nick, he wasn’t making much sense at all and clearly showing signs of mental illness. He was very angry, very agitated and very hostile.”

Mr Gleaves, aged 42, of Glenbrook Close, was taken to hospital where he continued to act aggressively towards police officers and was unco-operative with hospital staff until he was given a sedative drug Acuphase.

Consultant toxicologist Julie Evans said the drug can be linked to blood clots, especially when the patient is immobile, but it was not considered a contributing factor in her report.

She said: “They do on rare occasions cause problems with clotting, but they are a rare side effect. They were aware of it. So that was something that should have been asked in the initial report.”

Pathologist Dr Philip Lumb had reported the cause of death as deep vein thrombosis, a large blood clot which blocked the lung with blood and caused his heart to stop. Unaware that Acuphase can be linked to clots, the pathologist concluded that Mr Gleaves died from natural causes, but Mr Pollard questioned the post-mortem report.

Mr Gleaves was admitted to Royal Bolton Hospital on February 23 after his mental health declined and he was sectioned days later. He died on March 3 in Royal Bolton Hospital and, according to his sister Suzanne, could not even get out of bed in his final days.

She said that days before his death, her brother told her: “The staff are killing me. They keep taking blood. There’s nothing left inside me.”

Mr Gleaves, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, then looked at his reflection and said: “Look at me, they are killing me. I’m going to die.”

Dr Lumb could not rule out the possibility that Mr Gleaves’ death was due to unnatural causes.

The inquest was adjourned when the coroner established that Mr Gleaves may have died from unnatural causes while detained under the Mental Health Act. Mr Pollard said: “If there is any possibility someone has died from unnatural causes of death whilst they are in custody, then in that case I have no choice in the matter. I have to hold an inquest with a jury.”

“There is just a hint that maybe this depot injection could possibly have had an effect. If it were that it was found to be an unnatural cause of death linked to this drug then that of course has significant consequences for the trust.”

Dr Lumb noted the laceration of 1.4 centimetres near Mr Gleaves’ hairline with signs of bleeding, caused by the blow with a metal torch, but he said that this was a relatively minor injury.