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Dad weeps as Richard Betts' final moments recounted at inquest

Thursday 17th September 2020

A DEVASTATED dad wept as the final moments of his son's troubled life were recounted before an inquest this morning.

Richard Michael Betts, 23, died after an altercation at the family home at Larkspur Close, East Malling, in June 2018.

Mr Betts, who had a long history of violent behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse, smashed his way into the property's side door using a spade having first broken the window with a flowerpot.

His father Richard Betts Senior, who had to leave the hearing while his statement was read out by the coroner, said he had advance warning that his son was on the way to the house, which he was banned from visiting.

Mr Betts Snr said his son was "shouting and screaming" when he arrived.

He said he was stabbed in the arm with a sharp object, possibly a screwdriver, in the doorway before his son returned with the spade.

As they tussled inside, they fell to the floor and Mr Bett's father, who had repeatedly been hit with the spade, restrained him on the floor by sitting on his back.

Then Mr Betts Snr noticed his son's hands and face had gone a light blue colour.

Ambulance crews arrived to find Mr Betts Jr, who was around 18 stone, lying face down on the kitchen floor.

The dad, who criticised Kent Police for the time they took to arrive, called out "Rich" as he tried to revive him with CPR. He later died in hospital.

The inquest was told how the keen sportsman went off the rails after being expelled from his secondary school at 15 and drifted into drink and drug abuse.

He drank a cocktail of various prescription medicines, including anti-depressants, tramadol and diazapam mixed with vodka and energy drinks.

He had attempted suicide once and had been referred to local mental health services, but Mr Betts did not always engage successfully with the help offered.

Coroner's officer Alan Weller said he believed Mr Betts died of multiple organ failure, cardiac arrest and prone restraint asphyxiation connected to a high body mass index and drug use.

The inquest before assistant coroner James Dillon, which is expected to last two days, continues at Sessions House in Maidstone.