Man hurt in custody back in hospital

By Kristin Edge

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A 28-year-old Northland man who received paralysing neck injuries while in police custody has been rushed to hospital from a rehabilitation unit after vomiting blood.

Shane Legg had been in the Otara Spinal Unit in South Auckland but was early yesterday taken to Middlemore Hospital.

His father Ray Legg was late yesterday waiting for confirmation from doctors about what the setback in his son's rehabilitation was.

Shane Legg was paralysed when, after being detained by police in April on a driving offence, he fell as he climbed a fence while handcuffed. A police officer was with him at the time.

Whangarei police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett said police had interviewed Shane Legg as part of the internal inquiry they were carrying out. The investigation was nearing completion and as soon as it was compiled the Legg family and police officers involved would be informed.

Ms Kennett confirmed the officers involved have remained on duty.

Shane Legg had been in the spinal unit for about five weeks and had made some progress by being able to sit in a wheelchair.

He had undergone seven operations but his body was struggling to cope with the trauma, Ray Legg said.

An operation to graft bone marrow around the fracture in Shane's neck had not worked as well as expected.

"Now they are looking at taking more bone marrow off his hip and trying to get it to bond the fracture and grow round the inserted plates," Ray Legg said.

"So the last six months have been a waste of time. His body is so weak the doctors say he's is susceptible to all sorts of drugs."

The family were trying to remain positive but it seemed small steps were met with even bigger steps backward, Ray Legg said.

"We just don't celebrate any progress anymore because a couple of days later he's sick again," Ray said.

Since being admitted to hospital the 28-year-old has been fed through a tube. He told his dad he was looking forward to the day he was able to eat his mum's fresh fruit salad.

His mother, Sandra, has been by his bedside since he arrived in hospital and for 185 days been with her son.

"We are a close family and this has split us apart. I travel down to Auckland every second day from Ruawai and it's just tearing us apart," Ray Legg said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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