POLICE and paramedics have been absolved of blame at the inquest of Patrick Gaughan who died of heart failure following a cocaine binge.

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

The victim's family accused police and paramedics of mishandling Mr Gaughan as they attempted to treat him at the scene and claimed his chances of survival would have been greater if there hadn't been a delay in transferring him to hospital. The inquest heard it took an hour from the initial emergency call to transfer Mr Gaughan to Barnet Hospital where he later died.

But the unanimous decision to clear officers and paramedics of manhandling the patient and failing to prevent his death was reached by a jury this morning following the two week inquest, when it concluded both response teams had carried out their duties in accordance with training and that Mr Gaughan had died from cocaine intoxication.

The jury found that Mr Gaughan was delirious and thrashing about violently when paramedics arrived at Ridgeview making it difficult for them to treat him. Police officers were forced to control him using handcuffs and leg restraints to ensure the safety of those at the scene and to enable paramedics to administer treatment which, the jury ruled, did not contribute in any way to Mr Gaughan's death.

Paramedics attempted to make a diagnosis and stabilise the patient before transferring him to hospital, which jurors agreed, caused the delay. They accepted doctors' evidence that earlier medical intervention in hospital would not necessarily have led to a different outcome.

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Graham Danby told the family: "Anything I say can't change your sense of loss and concern at Patrick's death but in terms of these proceedings you have shown your concerns in the best way and by the quiet dignity throughout the proceedings - I thank you all for that."

Speaking after the inquest, Chief Superintendent Julia Wortley, Hertfordshire Constabulary's area commander, said: “We fully accept the findings of the coroner’s court. “The inquest found that our police community support officers (PCSOs) and police officers acted appropriately in restraining Patrick for his own safety and well-being so that ambulance staff could administer treatment.

“Patrick’s death is a sad tragedy and the constabulary extends its condolences to his family at the conclusion of today’s inquest.”