Mother-of-four died with serious infection while in police custody, inquest told

Deborah Padley was described as an ‘incredibly loving and fun mum’ by her family.

An “incredibly loving and fun” mother-of-four died as a “consequence of serious infection” while in police custody, a jury has heard.

Deborah Padley was arrested and taken to Tonbridge Police Station, in Kent, arriving at 8.17pm on July 23, 2021.

The 43-year-old was discovered unresponsive in her cell and later pronounced dead after 17 hours in custody on July 24.

At the inquest at Maidstone county hall, coroner Alan Blunsdon said Ms Padley died as “a consequence of serious infection in one or probably both kidneys”, due to an ascending urinary tract infection.

He added: “If it’s severe, it can result in sudden death.”

Representing Ms Padley’s family, Matthew Turner said the mother repeatedly said she was in pain in the holding cell, where footage played to the jury showed her rocking with her arms crossed over her legs.

Giving evidence to the court, Pc Ben Startin said he asked Ms Padley if she was in pain and she replied saying she needed the toilet.

He said: “I remember her holding her tummy, she looked unhappy. I asked her if she was in pain, she said no.

“She turned to me, I think she whispered words to the effect, ‘I need the toilet’.”

Pc Startin added: “If she said to me I’m in pain, I don’t feel well, I obviously would raise that to the custody sergeant but she told me she needed the toilet, I didn’t think it was relevant.”

Deborah Padley
Deborah Padley died in Tonbridge custody suite after 17 hours in police custody (Hudgell Solicitors/Family Handout/PA)

Jurors also heard how officers who arrested Ms Padley at an incident at a Tunbridge Wells address checked with her about any medical conditions, but could not get a clear answer and they were also “conflicting”, with sometimes yes and no replies.

Pc Startin added he was not sure if it was a “delaying tactic” in what he agreed was a chaotic situation where officers also believed Ms Padley to be intoxicated with alcohol.

The inquest heard that a friend of Ms Padley, who was at the address where she was arrested, said to officers “she hasn’t been feeling well”, and at another point Ms Padley was asked by officers if she needed medication and she replied “yeah, I need a lot”.

Jurors also heard how officers looked for medication in her handbag before leaving the house, but could not find anything.

At the hearing, Ms Padley was described as her children’s “biggest cheerleader” and that “they were her world”.

She was also described as an “adrenaline junkie” who loved theme parks and water fights, as well as enjoying simple joys such as baking cookies and brushing her daughter’s hair.

In a statement read on behalf of the family, Mr Turner said: “Debbie’s life was cruelly taken away. She cried out in pain.

“Her death has left us shattered.”

The inquest, which is expected to last up to 10 days, continues.

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