A MAN who was arrested and held in a police cell died after taking an overdose of drugs which should have been taken from him, a police watchdog has found.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct published a lengthy report into the death of Raymond Knight, who died in Grays custody suite on November 19, 2017.

Investigators found an officer failed to search the 55-year-old thoroughly before he was put into a cell.

The death occurred after Mr Knight was spotted in South Ockendon and his vehicle was searched. He was arrested for possession of Class A drugs.

He was then taken to Grays custody suite and fell ill. He was taken to hospital where he later died from cocaine toxicity.

During the investigation into his death, drugs were found in Mr Knight’s car, while a tin containing drugs was found in his holding cell.

Following his death, a ripped plastic bag was found in his jacket pocket which contained traces of drugs, while what appeared to be the other half of the plastic bag was found in the back of the police car.

The report said: “Based on the evidence available, we were of the opinion that a reasonable tribunal, properly directed, could find, on the balance of probabilities, that one officer’s search of the man had not been thorough; that the officer’s risk assessment may have been flawed, as the man appeared to have ingested cocaine during his search and arrest; and that the officer may have failed to provide adequate care and attention to the man by leaving him unattended.

“We were of the view that there was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable tribunal, properly directed, could find gross misconduct for the officer.”

Essex Police initially found the officer had no case to answer for misconduct, but following an inquest the force agreed to reassess the case.

At a misconduct hearing, the officer attended a misconduct meeting in autumn 2019. At the meeting, the chair of the panel found the allegations that the officer had failed to take into consideration the potential risks and to adequately search the man to be not proven.

The panel found the allegation the officer had not provided the man with adequate care and attention to be proven.

The officer received a first written warning.