A MAN found unconscious in a police cell died because of a dependency on drugs, a jury decided yesterday.

The family of John McDonnell said they were unhappy with the verdict and are considering civil action.

The 33-year-old, from Ripon, North Yorkshire, died from cocaine poisoning in a cell at Scarborough Police Station, in March 2003.

His parents found him thrashing around at their home on Scarborough's Eastfield estate.

They called an ambulance, but paramedics said he was too violent to treat and called for police back-up.

Police restrained him and took him to the station, where he was put in a cell. Minutes later, he was found dead.

A five-week inquest into his death was held at the Golden Lion, Northallerton. It heard evidence that Mr McDonnell may have been suffering from a condition called excited delirium, which can be brought on by using cocaine.

Medical experts said there is no antidote to cocaine poisoning.

Yesterday, the jury returned a verdict of death due to dependency on drugs.

Following the verdict, coroner John Sleightholme said: "It may be fashionable for some pop stars and models to take cocaine, but people who are tempted to take cocaine should realise that they may become paranoid.

"They may even end up in this frightening state of cocaine-induced excited delirium."

He recommended that defibrillators should be kept in police stations and said police officers, paramedics and hospital staff should be trained in the symptoms of excited delirium.

Nadia Kerr, solicitor for the McDonnells, said: "The family are deeply saddened with the verdict.

"They have had some of their questions answered, but they remain totally dissatisfied that John died under arrest and in a cell at the police station when they had called 999 for medical assistance."

Superintendant Iain Spittal, operations commander of the force's eastern area, said: "We can only concur with the coroner's conclusion that no matter what action the police had taken, it would not have prevented this death."