An experienced psychologist has criticised the standard of care given to a Pembrokeshire mental health patient who died after being sedated at St David's Hospital, Carmarthen.

A medical team at the hospital had agreed that 26-year-old Darren Tannahill should be closely monitored after being given an injection to rapidly tranquillise him.

But Professor Kevin Gourney says there was no record that his blood pressure, respiration and pulse had been checked.

"I'm of the opinion than the standard of care provided to Darren Tannahill fell well below that which would be expected for any patient within the mental health service,'' Professor Gourney told a coroner's court at Llanelli.

"I'm of the opinion that there is some basis for seriously considering the issue of neglect.'' The inquest comes nine years after Darren's death but his family will have to wait until next month for the verdict of the coroner, John Owen, because he has reserved judgment until May 8th.

The three-day hearing was told that Darren, who lived with his parents at Fishguard, had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and admitted to St David's Hospital because of fears over his safety.

He had not been taking the medication he had been prescribed to control agoraphobia and schizophrenia.

Darren was tranquillised with two drugs including droperidol. He had previously been prescribed this drug but when he developed muscle spasms it was removed from his treatment.

Two years later droperidol was withdrawn by the manufacturers because it was found to trigger abnormal activity of the heart.

Although Darren's record would have shown that he had reacted to this drug, no attempt was made to retrieve his medical records before he was tranquillised.

The inquest was told that the Pembrokeshire and Derwen NHS Trust had since made improvements to its systems, including electronic medical records which can be accessed by all units. It also implemented guidelines in 2005 for administering rapid tranquillisation which took account of the recommendations of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

See Wednesday's Western Telegraph for the full story from the three days of the inquest.