POLICE and paramedics have been accused of forcefully manhandling a patient suffering from a fit which eventually led to his death.

An inquest into the death of Patrick Gaughan, which is expected to last two weeks and include evidence from 24 witnesses, was opened today.

The 32-year-old victim, who had a history of drug use, died on June 9, 2007 at Barnet General Hospital after suffering a fit at his temporary home in Ridgeview Lodge, London Colney.

Fellow resident Tim Earner, who discovered the distressed victim in his room, told an inquest jury today how paramedics and police, who attended the scene, had treated the victim with a heavy hand. He said: "They were treating him unfairly. Somewhere along the line they were speaking to him abruptly. I thought the whole attitude was very rough towards him and how they treated him." But duty manager of Ridgeview Lodge, Simone Pownall, who also attended the scene, said paramedics and police had to restrain Patrick as he was thrashing about the room uncontrollably. She recalled during the struggle the victim kicking a female paramedic in the neck.

She told the jury: "He was throwing himself around so much it was making it impossible for the paramedics to do what they had to do. They were trying to keep him still so they could help him." She insisted the officers and paramedics had not treated him in a boisterous manner."

The inquest continues.