Actions of police justified in death of league fan Steven, says coroner

The death of a rugby league fan who died during an altercation with police while celebrating the 2010 NRL Grand Final was the result of drug use and a pre-existing medical condition exacerbated by the clash with officers, a coroner has found.

And the coroner has recommended that police involved in crowd control be better trained in the dangers of restraining drunk, overweight men in prone positions.

Steven Bosevski died on October 4, 2010, after he attacked police at the St George Leagues Club during celebrations following the grand final win by the St George Illawarra Dragons.

The brawl was sparked after one of Mr Bosevski's brothers refused to go for a "chat" with a police officer, Constable Adam Mathieu, who thought he had been involved in an assault on another patron, Robert Hristovski.

The inquest heard that during the ensuing melee Mr Bosevski and his brother Tony allegedly rushed police officers and the former hit a junior officer in the eye with a beer bottle.

He was then forcibly restrained by two police officers and two security guards, including being sprayed with capsicum spray.

He was forced face down on the floor, with police repeatedly striking him in the legs and hips with batons, and placing two handcuffs on him while pinning him to the ground with a knee to the back. He remained there virtually motionless for four minutes until police turned him over, realised he was not breathing and began CPR.

On Thursday, coroner Paul McMahon found that the 35-year-old, who was morbidly obese and had high blood pressure, died from a combination of methylamphetamine toxicity and hyperintensive heart disease.

"The cause of his death was cardiac arrest in a person with pre-existing dilated cardiomyopathy ... during a period of intense physical exertion that occurred whilst being restrained," Magistrate McMahon said.

He found that Mr Bosevski also had a long history of amphetamine use, and that this probably contributed to a state of delerium and hyper-stimulation which led to his heart failing.

The pinning down of Mr Bosevski by police may also have contributed, the coroner found, but their actions were justified given his aggression and attack upon them.

Nevertheless, the coroner recommended that police involved in controlling such events be reviewed to ensure they are fully aware of the dangers of pinning people face down, particularly when they are obese and heavily intoxicated.

The story Actions of police justified in death of league fan Steven, says coroner first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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