An inquest into the death of a forklift driver who died while being arrested for driving dangerously has heard his heart could have stopped due to psychosis.
An inquest into the death of a forklift driver who died while being arrested for driving dangerously has heard his heart could have stopped due to psychosis.

Man who died being arrested may have had ‘excited delirium’

An Adelaide forklift driver who died while being arrested could have been suffering from "excited delirium", a state that creates near superhuman strength and aggression while also shutting down the person's ability to reason, the Coroner's Court has heard.

The death of Clinton John Duffield on February 8, 2017, was captured on police body-cam but the cause remains undetermined.

Stephen Plummer, counsel assisting Coroner David Whittle, said Mr Duffield had been acting erratically in the weeks leading up to his death during the opening of a coronial inquest into the death.

On the day he died Mr Duffield is suspected of driving directly at a police car at more than 100km/h before speeding away.

He went to his workplace in Penrice in the Barossa Valley where he continued to act erratically with co-workers.

Police were warned by a relative of Mr Duffield that the man had been on a drug bender for two days and would likely fight police if they tried to arrest him.

Nine police officers entered the business around 10.30pm and tried to arrest Mr Duffield in a smokers hut.

Clinton Duffield, 35, died after he was arrested by police at Angaston in the Barossa Valley in 2017
Clinton Duffield, 35, died after he was arrested by police at Angaston in the Barossa Valley in 2017

Mr Duffield violently resisted arrest and was handcuffed before having his feet and legs secured by a cable tie.

He was carried from the hut by police before being placed on his side in the carpark as he was read his rights.

Footage from the body-worn camera of one of the officers and played to the court showed Mr Duffield swearing at police officers before going quiet.

As the officer continued to read the rights Mr Duffield lost consciousness.

The officers begun monitoring his breathing and called for an ambulance.

Only minutes later, when Mr Duffield's pulse stopped, they begun CPR, which continued until ambulance officers took over.

Mr Duffield was declared dead at 12.35am.

Forensic pathologist Dr Karen Heath told the court she had identified a series of anatomical abnormalities but said that none of them were significant enough to account for Mr Duffield's heart stopping.

She said that Mr Duffield had minor narrowing of one of the vessels leading to his heart, a hardened portion of the heart, a small benign tumour on the surface of the membrane protecting his brain and cuts and bruises from the arrest.

She described the death as multi-factorial but ruled out asphyxiation during the arrest as a cause.

Dr Heath said that "excited delirium" that could be caused by a psychotic episode had been linked with sudden cardiac arrest, but emphasised that had not been empirically proven.

The inquest will resume in the coming weeks.

Originally published as Man who died being arrested may have suffered 'excited delirium'



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