A dad died after being restrained from Pontins staff following a row over his son being allegedly bullied by another kid, an inquest heard.

Paul Reynolds, 38 and who was described as "a gentle giant", had his life support turned off in hospital after the confrontation at Pontins holiday park in Pakefield near Lowestoft, Suffolk.

His girlfriend Carrie Bennett, 33, told the inquest his sons witnessed him being "killed" by the staff after they allegedly pinned him down and strangled him.

She said the incident began after she confronted the parents of another child as their daughter "slapped" their two-year-old son.

She said the parents of the girl ran over to confront Mr Reynolds before security staff waded in and appeared to pin him to the floor while "strangling" him.

Mother-of-three Miss Bennett of Colchester, Essex, who gave evidence via video link said she punched out at a security guard before being forced to leave the ballroom bar.

She said she next saw her partner being carried out unconscious by police and security staff with his "head flopping" on the night of February 14, 2017.

Mr Reynolds who was also known as Paul Gladwell was put in a police van to be taken for questioning, but officers realised he was seriously unwell.

Suffolk Coroner's Court heard how he was instead taken to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, where he died two days later on February 16.

Mr Reynolds was said to have had Asperger's Syndrome and was a heavy drinker who would often consume eight cans of Strongbow cider every day.

Paul Gladwell
He died after a row broke out over his son being allegedly bullied, the inquest heard

Miss Bennett said they had arrived at Pontins on February 11 and had allowed their children to dance in the ballroom every evening while they sat watching.

Giving evidence via video link, she said she had seen a girl repeatedly "slapping and pushing" her two-year-old son.

She said that she got Mr Reynolds to move the boy to another part of the dance floor to get him away from the girl, but she then saw her son slapped again the next night.

Miss Bennett said: "I didn't say anything until we were walking out to leave and I saw the parents of the other child.

"I said I was going to say something and Paul told me to leave it.

"I approached them and said, 'Do me a favour and have a word with [...] brat kid who keeps coming over and smacking my boy'.

"They are my kids and I will do anything for them. I just don't like bullies. I went over there and told her to a word with her child and it escalated from there."

Carrie and Paul
Partner Carrie Bennett said Paul's kids witnessed him being 'strangled' by Pontins staff

She said that the family of the girl responded by attacking hr partner, saying: "I think they saw Paul and they judged him because he was hench."

Miss Bennett added: "They started on him, not me. They just came rushing over for him. They were like going for him, trying to grab him. Then the security men grabbed him.

"I know they were trying to grab him which is why I punched out. Then I got kicked out.

"I next saw him when he was being carried out by police officers and security ten to 15 minutes later.

"When they came out, they were just holding him and his head was flopped forward. They said he was asleep."

The Pontins holiday park in Suffolk
The Pontins holiday park in Suffolk

Miss Bennett said her two older sons were still in the ballroom while her partner of seven years Mr Reynolds was being restrained.

She said: "The two other kids were sitting with a worker right in front of their dad while he was being killed."

Miss Bennett added: "It was my boy who told me there was a security man on his back strangling him until he was asleep."

She said she had gone off to give a police statement when an officer told her that she was being taken to the hospital because her partner "was not too great".

Miss Bennett said: "She didn't tell me he was brain dead. I saw Paul laying there with tubes coming out of him on life support."

She described Mr Reynolds as the "best Dad" she could hope for her children to have

Mr Reynolds' former support worker Dale Prentice described Mr Reynolds as "a gentle giant".

Asperger's syndrome
He had Asperger's syndrome

He added that Mr Reynolds had a "volatile at times" relationship with Miss Bennett, but they always got back together after arguments.

Mr Prentice said that Mr Reynolds was also obsessive about cleaning as a result of his Asperger's and didn't like to be around crowds".

Suffolk area coroner Jacqueline Devonish said Mr Reynolds had been restrained by security and other staff until police arrived after "an incident between guests" in the communal area at Pontins.

Ms Devonish added: "The police arrived and arrested Mr Reynolds by using handcuffs and placing him in the police van.

"On the route to the Police Investigation Centre, the police stopped the vehicle when they noticed Mr Reynolds appearing unwell.

Paul Reynolds and partner
Mr Reynolds was described as a 'gentle giant'

"They took Mr Reynolds out of the van and performed CPR until paramedics arrived."

She said that the inquest which is expected to last up to four weeks would examine the response of police and security staff.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider gross negligence manslaughter charges against two serving officers and a retired officer over the death of Mr Reynolds

Suffolk Police also referred a file to the CPS to consider manslaughter charges against five Pontins security staff.

The CPS announced in 2019 that there was "insufficient evidence" for manslaughter charges, and that it "would not be proportionate or in the public interest" to prosecute one Pontins employee for a health and safety offence.

Mr Reynolds' family later appealed the decision under the CPS's Victims' Right to Review scheme, but the original decision not to bring charges was upheld by a senior prosecutor with no previous involvement in the case.