Ex-soldier who died after being Tasered was ‘harassed’ by police, inquest told

General view of Taser gun as worn by police .
General view of Taser gun as worn by police .

Platoon Sergeant Spencer Beynon, 43, from Llanelli, South Wales, died after officers were called over concerns about his behaviour

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The father of an ex-soldier who died after being Tasered by officers has told an inquest his son “suffered a campaign of harassment” by police in the years leading up to his death.

Platoon Sergeant Spencer Beynon, 43, from Llanelli, South Wales, died after officers were called over concerns about his behaviour.

The soldier, who had served with the Royal Welsh Regiment, had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after his tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, and had been discharged from the army on medical grounds, a jury was told on Wednesday.

Parc y Scarlets rugby stadium is hosting the inquest.
Parc y Scarlets rugby stadium is hosting the inquest.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers responded to a report from a neighbour on July 14 2016 of a man walking down a road barefoot holding a cannabis pipe, and found Mr Beynon in a nearby street with a neck wound.

He later collapsed after being hit with a Taser, with officers claiming they had deployed the weapon after he had shown “aggression” towards them.

Christopher Beynon, his father, said that in the 18 months prior to his death, officers had repeatedly searched his son’s home, with severe damage being done to the windows and doors of the property during one of the busts.

Mr Beynon said he believed his son’s mental health was improving, noting he had become interested in Buddhism and was “more placid”.

But on the day he died, Mr Beynon said he arrived home at around 9.30am to find his son behaving “absolutely nuts”.

“He was shouting at the top of his voice, ‘I love you, I love you, I’m going to make you proud’,” he said.

Dyfed Powys Police Headquarters in Nantgaredig outside Carmarthen.
Dyfed Powys Police Headquarters in Nantgaredig outside Carmarthen.

“He got down into a prayer then got up and tried to exorcise the devil from me.

“His mood changed, and a blackness came over him.”

After his son left, Mr Beynon said he called 999 while his wife went out to look for him.

A transcript of the call read out in the hearing showed Mr Beynon asked for his son to be sectioned, describing his behaviour as “insane”.

He did not hear of his son until around 7.30pm when he was contacted by his granddaughter who told him he had died.

At the scene, he said he was told by a police sergeant that his son’s body had already been taken by the ambulance, but that he now believes it remained under a sheet in the road.

It was the beginning of what he claims was a “catalogue of lies” he was told by the police force following his son’s death.

A welfare check was not carried out after Mr Beynon’s call to police in the morning and acting senior coroner Paul Bennett has asked the jury to decide whether the police’s response was appropriate.

The jury will also have to decide whether police’s response to events that unfolded in Maes y Bwlch, where Mr Beynon eventually died, was reasonable, whether it was reasonable for officers to use a Taser, and whether the Taser contributed to his death. And if the medical assistance given at the scene was appropriate.

A statement taken from Mr Beynon’s girlfriend at the time, Victoria Key – who has since died, was read out at the hearing.

In it she said how Mr Beynon had begun acting strangely a couple of days before he died, increasingly saying he saw the “devil” in people, including their dog.

The evening of his death, Ms Key said they were in the house together. He had told her “how much he loved me, and wanted to get married on the beach”.

But that after she sat on him and gave him a kiss “he looked at me and his eyes were black for a moment”.

She said he had pushed her off him and left the house without any shoes, smashing the glass in a door frame as he went.

The four-week jury inquest into Mr Beynon’s death is taking place at Parc y Scarlets rugby union stadium in Llanelli.