A man who was found dead in a holding cell at Oistins Police Station in April 2017 had died by asphyxia caused by hanging, a pathologist told an inquest today.
Consultant pathologist Dr Corinthia Dupree, who conducted the autopsy on the body of 33-year-old Corey Antonio Best, disclosed the findings as the coroner’s inquest into his death got underway in the High Court this morning.
Best, of Hopefield, Charnocks, Christ Church was reportedly found hanging about 3 a.m. on April 13, 2017 while in police custody.
Dr Dupree detailed her findings of the April 24 post mortem examination which she said were “in keeping with death by asphyxia secondary to hanging.”
She told Coroner Manila Renee that other minor injuries were also found on Best’s back and chest as well as lesions resembling that of scratch marks on his legs.
But under questioning by the deceased’s mother, Angela Best, Dr Dupree explained that she could not definitely say what caused the bruises or the marks on her son’s body.
“[The injuries] were not scarred so they could have been made the same day [or] fairly recent. They could have been caused . . . for example by either finger nails or rubbing against something,” she said.
But the mother, who has been seeking answers to her son’s death, informed the court that she had been conducting her own research and found that someone who is said to have hanged had three distinctions.
“I believe the neck is stretched, elongated . . . the tongue is usually swollen and out of your mouth and your eyes have to bulge . . . and froth [or] blood at the mouth and nose,” she told Dr Dupree.
In the case of the neck, Dr Dupree said that this “was not a pathological certainty. It is not a pathologically described finding . . . . I have [described] the whites of the eyes as being congested and swollen . . . . I did not see a swollen protruding tongue.”
The doctor also said that she found no blood or froth at the nose or mouth during her examination.
Police Constable Jason Greene was on duty that day when another officer sounded the alarm around 3 a.m. of the discovery in the cell.
PC Greene said he went to investigate and saw Best hanging from the “ventilation bars” by his pants and at the time he was wearing a black vest and boxers.
He said with the assistance of other officers they removed the body.
“After taking him down, he appeared not to be breathing so I called 511, but they said they could not respond . . . . So I called Dr Ross Herbert,” said PC Greene.
However, with tears running down her face, Best asked why there were no pictures of her son hanging.
Coroner Renee also queried whether it was police procedure to take pictures of a deceased person before disturbing the scene.
Greene replied: “We did not know if he was dead at the time so we took him down to render any medical assistance . . .”
The mother also asked PC Greene and PC Renaldo Holder, who had also assisted in taking down the body, whether there was a chair in the room on which her son stood in order to tie the pants to the bars.
Both officers said there was no chair, but there was a wooden bench bed that was anchored to the floor in close proximity to where Best was found hanging.
“It was close enough that he could reach where the knot was tied,” PC Holder suggested to the coroner.
Station Sergeant Leslie Arthur told the court that he interviewed Best on April 13, 2017, about a burglary, which had occurred at his mother’s home on February 27.
It was reported by Best’s cousin David Kola, who was visiting from Canada, that a metal cash tin had been stolen after someone had broken in.
The tin, according to the police, contained CDN$3,700 cash, a cellular phone, and a wallet and contents including credit cards and other documents.
But Best, who was allegedly found in possession of the cash tin, insisted that he had bought it from a hardware store in Bridgetown.
Asked whether he had a key for the tin, he said it was at home and he was allowed a telephone call to his mother so she could bring it in.
When the tin was opened, most of its contents, including a Canadian passport bore the name and picture of Best’s cousin.
He was then arrested but did not go to the cells quietly, the officer said.
Station Sergeant Arthur said he then conducted an interview with Best’s mother, which ended about 2:46 a.m, and then offered her a ride home, which she accepted, and another officer accompanied him.
But, on his return he was informed of Best’s death and about 4:52 a.m. ventured again to the mother’s house in the company of two other officers to inform her.
The inquest continues before Coroner Renee on Thursday at 10 a.m.