Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Shannon Elizabeth MURPHY

Inquest into the Death of Shannon Elizabeth MURPHY

 Delivered on :16 November 2016

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Vicker

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased was a 33 year old female who was a regular amphetamine user at the time of her death. She was living in a defacto relationship in Armadale and her son was being care for by her mother in Tasmania. During the months leading up to the deceased’s death she was experiencing some increased signs of pronounced responses to her methylamphetamine intoxication.

On the day of her death the deceased experienced a relatively normal day and at some point consumed methylamphetamine. Following this she appears to have become mildly delusional. She became fixated on the fact her son was somehow in one of the houses within walking distance in Armadale. She has attempted to enter a number of properties in a fairly violent and aggressive manner. This provoked extreme responses from some of the householders. One in particular, in attempting to control her behaviour, inflected considerable injury to the deceased on more than one occasion.

A number of calls were made to the police who attended believing that they were dealing with a burglary in progress. Police on seeing the deceased and her state immediately requested for an ambulance to attend. Despite police attendance the deceased attempted to continue her activities and police decided to restrain her for her own safety and the safety of others. It was obvious to police the deceased required medical assistance. A police officer caught hold of the deceased and brought her to the ground and three police officers then surrounded her in effort to restrain her and prevent further injury.

During the restraint by police officers the deceased stopped breathing and the police officers immediately began resuscitation. The deceased recommenced to take shallow breaths and police officers monitored her closely pending the arrival of an ambulance which had been given a priority one. Before the ambulance arrived the deceased again stopped breathing and police officers recommenced resuscitation attempts. Ambulance officers arrived and continued the care of the deceased. She was transported to the Armadale Kelmscott Memorial Hospital where she later died.

The Coroner noted the evidence before the Court suggested there may have been some difficulty with the police officers’ ability to articulate their conceptual understanding of the deceased’s situation. However, the practical outcome was their training had taught them to respond appropriately. The Coroner was satisfied the three police officers in this particular set of circumstances well understood the fact the deceased was faced with a medical emergency and acted in the deceased’s best interests when they attempted to restrain and then monitor her pending the arrival of the ambulance. Effectively the police were the deceased’s best chances of survival in the circumstances in which she found herself.

The Coroner accepted the forensic pathologist’s evidence there was no evidence of positional asphyxia at post mortem examination or from the evidence of witnesses. All the evidence was consistent with the deceased’s death being a sudden methylamphetamine induced cardiac arrest which was probably in progress before police and certainly ambulance, attendance.

The Coroner found the deceased died on 27 April 2012 at Armadale Kelmscott Memorial Hospital as a result of Methylamphetamine Intoxication leading to agitated delirium and extreme exertion induced cardiac arrhythmia and death occurred by way of misadventure.

Catch Words : Methylamphetamine intoxication : Police training and restraint : Positional asphyxia : Mechanical or physical obstruction : Sudden cardiac death as a result of psychostimulant intoxication and extreme exertion : Excited (agitated) delirium : Misadventure.

Last updated: 30-Apr-2019

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