Inquest into death of George Jones held three years later
An inquest into the death of 40-year-old George Alfred Jones is happening in the Campbell River Law Courts.
Between May 7 and May 11, a public inquiry will go over all the facts involving the death of Jones, who died after being in Comox Valley RCMP custody in 2009.
He was found to be in medical distress after being arrested on January 18, 2009 and was taken to St Joseph’s Hospital. He died there 17 hours later.
Jones was living with his sister, Debbie Darrah and her family at the time of his death. He had a history with epilepsy as well as drunk and disorderly conduct and was known to police.
Darrah told the court on the first day of trial that his issues started after being severely beaten as a 14-year-old in Ontario.
He also had asthma and was slowly losing his eye-sight. He had to feel his way around the house after he lost his glasses.
The court heard testimony from his sister as well as the forensic toxicologist on the first day of trial to piece together the events leading up to his death.
He left his sister’s house in the morning after a fight and walked downtown.
“That was basically the last time I talked to him,” said Darrah.
Comox Valley RCMP received two phone calls reporting Jones acting erratically in the middle of the road.
He was picked up and half an hour later after RCMP determined he was in some kind of medical distress, he was taken to the hospital.
He died in hospital on January 19. The first autoposy could find no elevated drug levels in his blood but on a second analysis, there was found to be a lethal amount of an anti-depressant drug.
The toxicologist Dr. Walter Martz said Jones’ blood levels contained “20 fold” the normal amount of the drug. He also cautioned that because the blood was taken post-mortem, the tissues could absorb more of the drug and cause a higher level to be read.
Darrah says her brother never took the drug and was surprised to learn he filled his prescription the morning before he died.
“I’d been trying to get him to take his medication for years and he never did,” said Darrah. “So I really can’t see him taking them. If he did, maybe it was accidental. I don’t know.”
Terry Woodridge is Jones’ brother-in-law and said he finds it strange that the cause of death could be caused by the medication Jones’ never took.
“We think it’s really strange because she (Darrah) tried many times ‘take you medicine, take your medicine,” Woodridge. “(He was) real stubborn.”
The inquest must first determine the cause of death which could be accidental, homicide, suicide, undetermined or natural. There are seven jurors, four women and three men.
Because it is an inquest, jurors are allowed to ask questions.
“I think we’ll go in to look at what were the causes of death and then it’s really up to the jury as to whether there’s anything out of those circumstances they could recommend to prevent deaths,” says Inquiry Council, John Orr.
The inquiry is set to finish May 11 at the Campbell River Law Courts.
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