THE family of a man who died three days after he was shot with a Taser stun gun by police have hit out at a coroner's verdict that his death was from natural causes.

An inquest into the death of 47-year-old Brian Loan, from Sacriston, County Durham, yesterday, ruled that he died from long-term heart disease.

But his sister, Barbara Hodgson, said the father-of-seven was in good health, ate well, took regular exercise and had never complained of chest pains.

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She said his death was the result of police action and the use of the controversial Taser gun, which discharges up to 50,000 volts and has been used more in the North-East than any other part of the country.

Gateshead coroner Terence Carney heard how Mr Loan was involved in a two-and-a-half hour siege at his Lilac Avenue home on the evening of October 10.

Detective Inspector Steve Winship, of Durham Police, said Mr Loan had threatened to chop up his cousin's daughter and bury her remains.

The inquest, at Gateshead County Court, heard Claire Loan told police he had drawn a knife across her throat, punched her and pulled her hair before she escaped and raised the alarm.

Armed police surrounded thehouse because they feared he had two axes, access to knives and was considered dangerous.

Det Insp Winship said: "One officer did discharge a Taser. It was dark and the officer could not tell if the barbs had connected because it appeared to have no effect.

"A second officer fired a baton round into his lower stomach. It also appeared to have no effect.

"A third officer fired another Taser and this time both barbs connected with his back. It had the desired effect and officers were able to secure an arrest."

The inquest was told Mr Loan was taken to Durham City police station in the early hours of October 11, where he became aggressive and stripped naked in front of the custody sergeant.

At 4am he was deemed fit to be detained by a police sergeant and the following day he was charged with several offences.

He appeared before Consett Magistrates' Court and was granted bail on the condition that he lived with his father at Wallace Gardens, in Springwell, Gateshead.

Mr Loan was found dead by his father, Francis Loan, on the morning of October 14.

A post mortem examination found he had pierce marks on his body from the Taser gun, a severe bruise from the baton round, several grazes and bruises and a broken metatarsal bone in his foot. Independent pathologists Dr Mark Egan and Dr Nigel Cooper found Mr Loan was suffering from severe heart disease and said that was the cause of his death.

Dr Egan said his coronary artery on one side was so narrow it was the size of a pinhole and that sudden death was not uncommon in such cases.

Coroner Terence Carney accepted their opinions and told the family there was no evidence to suggest Mr Loan died as a result of the Taser. He said: "It may be in five or ten years time somebody may find a link, but no one has found one in this case.

"The only conclusion I can record, coincidental though it may be, is that Brian Loan died of a long-standing heart disease."

His family refused to accept the verdict.

Mrs Hodgson said: "He was as fit as a fiddle and would go running for miles and dance all-night at raves all over the place.

"He never complained about chest pains and would have seen the doctor if anything was wrong. He always looked after himself and ate healthily and hardly ever drank.

"The evidence might not exist at the minute, but I am sure we will be proved right as more cases come to light."