05:58 Saturday 11 January 2014

Drug users and alcoholics 'common' inside public toilets, inquest hears

Written byJORDAN DAY

The public toilets in Sacrist Gate, Ely. The public toilets in Sacrist Gate, Ely.

Drug users and alcoholics collapsing in Ely’s public toilets is a “common occurrence”, according to a council worker.

David Bedingfield, who works as a public toilet cleaner for East Cambridgeshire District Council, says alcohol and drug users are often found passed out in the toilets - in particular the ones in Sacrist Gate, off Ely High Street.

The comments were made in a statement Mr Bedingfield gave to police after he found the body of Slawomir Krzewinski, 48, in the male toilets in Sacrist Gate on March 28 last year.

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, were called to the scene but Mr Krzewinski, of Hills Lane, was already dead.

An inquest into his death was held by William Morris, coroner for North and East Cambridgeshire, on Wednesday (January 8).

Dr Ashraf Ibrahim, a pathologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, gave evidence at the inquest and said that the level of alcohol in the victim’s blood was 293 micrograms in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit for driving is 80 micrograms.

Dr James Howard, from Ely’s Cathedral Medical Centre, said Mr Krzewinski had been registered there since January 2012 and that he had “alcohol abuse issues”.

In a statement, Mr Bedingfield said: “It was around 4.45pm. I went to the men’s toilets in Sacrist Gate to clean them and lock them for the night.

“The cubicles were empty apart from the first one. The door was locked and I could see fluid coming from underneath the door.

“I banged the door and there was no answer. I called my boss who told me to stay there while he called for assistance. The paramedics then arrived.

“This is quite a common occurrence at these toilets. Members of the public who drink and take drugs use them during the daytime and are often passing out in the cubicles.”

Mr Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The Sacrist Gate public toilets have been at the centre of controversy for some time.

Speaking to Ely News last year, residents and shopkeepers said the loos were “plagued” with drug addicts and alcoholics but police insisted the issues were being exaggerated.

Speaking after the inquest, Inspector Paul Ormerod, who is based in Ely, said: “Historically, there have been issues with these public toilets, however, since the Designated Public Place Order came into effect in April 2011 the situation has improved.

“We regularly meet local residents and work closely with the cathedral management, City of Ely Council, East Cambs District Council and the Fenland and East Cambs Alcohol Service and we are not aware of any issues there at present.

“We regularly carry out high visibility and plain clothed patrols in the area.”

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