A coroner has not found any wrongdoing in the actions of people who restrained a man acting erratically and violently, instead decrying the "modern scourge" of methamphetamine.
Coroner Darren Bracken has delivered his findings on the 2016 death of 39-year-old Matt Robert Crampton, following an inquest last year.
On the night of February 14, 2016, Mr Crampton was on the Northern Highway near Heathcote waving a torch and saying, "They're after me, they're after me", before he got into a vehicle and told the driver to take him to the police station.
In town, Mr Crampton got out and walked up High Street erratically, then began banging on the door of a takeaway shop, demanding to be let in.
Inside was the manager, his 18-year-old stepson and his 11-year-old son.
Mr Crampton smashed the door and entered, then got into a scuffle with the manager.
During the encounter Mr Crampton hit the manager's son in the chest with the torch and pushed him into a storeroom, pushed a cash register off a bench, pushed items off a bain marie and threw a coffee at the older boy.
Read more: Coroner examines Heathcote man's death
Still grappling, the manager and Mr Crampton got outside, where they separated.
Mr Crampton ran into the main street and got into a woman's car, pushed her and yelled for her to drive away.
But after a short distance Mr Crampton got out and ran back at the manager, and another scuffle broke out.
The two fell to the pavement and the manager got Mr Crampton in a headlock.
The manager and an off-duty police officer then restrained him with his hands behind his back.
At this point, the boyfriend of the woman whose car Mr Crampton had entered ran up and punched him once or twice on the chin.
The police officer realised Mr Crampton appeared to be having trouble breathing and instructed the manager to let him go.
When he could not feel Mr Crampton breathing, the officer commenced CPR.
Resuscitation continued for 43 minutes after paramedics arrived, but their attempts were unsuccessful and Mr Crampton was pronounced dead.
Read more: Police investigate man's death in Heathcote
Forensic pathologist Dr Heinrich Bouwer found Mr Crampton died from cardiorespiratory arrest, likely because of his illicit drug consumption, his agitated state, being physically restrained, having had force applied to his neck and torso, and natural disease.
He said there was no evidence the punches had contributed to his death.
"Mr Crampton's death was a tragedy at least contributed to by the modern scourge of methylamphetamine," Mr Bracken said.
No charges were laid against the manager or the off-duty police officer.
Post-mortem blood samples showed Mr Crampton had used methamphetamine, although how much he used was not known.
"Methylamphetamine is notoriously insidious and commonly causes erratic, violent behaviour; it is dangerous to those who consume it and not infrequently to those with whom users come into contact whilst under its influence," Mr Bracken said.
The coroner said Mr Crampton's behaviour posed a serious threat to those he came into contact with that night.
"The manager understandably fearful for the safety or his son and stepson as well as himself, acted with considerable restraint," Mr Bracken said.
"The efforts of the policeman too, who did not stint at intervening in a violent dangerous melee when not on duty and supported by other police, deserve the community's gratitude and admiration."
He noted Mr Crampton's father was distraught at the inquest and had spoken of the anguish the family had suffered at their loved one's death in those circumstances.
It was also noted that a long-term friend with whom Mr Crampton lived described him as "always the joker of the group... He loved to do the cooking and just generally loved having a laugh".
"Our community is bedevilled by the effects of illicit drug use and the often violent conduct of those consuming methylamphetamine plagues us. No simple panacea exists," Mr Bracken said.
"One of the tragedies of these events is that I am unable to offer anything tangible to Mr Crampton's family to ameliorate their distress.
"Harm minimisation and public policy reintegrating those who, for one reason or another, find themselves alienated and at the margins of our society together with the provision of resources to those seeking to rid themselves of the scourge, commend themselves as effective strategies.
"Concerted efforts by law enforcement agencies to pursue and prosecute those profiting by illicit drug manufacture and sale support such aims."
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