Plymouth drug deal suspect died after police search, inquest told
A MOTORIST collapsed and died after being stopped by police who had spotted a suspected drug deal, an inquest heard.
Stephen Hembury, from Prince Rock, suffered a fatal heart attack as he was being searched at the roadside.
He had been pulled over after a plain-clothes officer saw a suspected drug dealer getting into the 62-year-old's car.
An inquest into Mr Hembury's death in the city yesterday heard how he was found with heroin in his pocket.
PC Chris Collins had spotted a man named Gary Leggett getting into a light blue Ford Focus, driven by Mr Hembury, at around 2.30pm on Thursday, September 20, last year, the inquest was told.
In a statement read out by Coroner Ian Arrow, PC Collins said police had information linking Mr Leggett to the supply of Class A drugs.
The suspect remained in the car for around 10 seconds before getting out, arousing suspicion that a drug deal may have taken place, he said.
PC Collins followed Mr Hembury's car and radioed ahead to alert other officers in the area.
At around 2.40pm another PC, who was in a marked police car, stopped the vehicle.
He was joined by PC Collins and the officers carried out a search, the inquest heard.
The inquest heard how they found two yellow tablets in Mr Hembury's right breast pocket, as well as two paper wraps of heroin and a black-handled lock knife.
Recalling the incident in a statement, PC Collins said: "His face was pale and his hands were shaking.
"He leant on the vehicle and asked to sit down.
"I asked if he required an ambulance – he said yes and then collapsed. I caught him in my arms."
The officers carried out CPR until an ambulance arrived, the inquest heard.
Mr Hembury, who lived in Heles Terrace, was taken to Derriford Hospital but pronounced dead at 4.17pm.
He had suffered a heart attack in 1997 and later undergone a triple heart bypass.
Mr Hembury's former partner, Dallas Hembury, who he married in 1984, told the inquest how he was stepfather to her children and had visited her on the day he died.
"He seemed unwell and it took him a long time to get out of the car," she told the inquest. "He left when Neighbours came on the TV – he hated Australian soaps."
Ms Hembury added: "For pain relief he smoked heroin, and it left him penniless."
The pathologist confirmed the cause of death as ischaemic heart disease and acute myocardial ischaemia.
The coroner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.
Mr Hembury's death was investigated by the IPPC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) but the matter was passed back to the force.