A TINY crack in a metal support on a cell window was enough for prisoner Gary McCambridge to thread his shoelace through and hang himself, a fatal accident inquiry heard yesterday.

The 24-year-old known drug abuser managed to jump up and cling to the narrow window ledge at Gorbals police office in Glasgow while making the noose.

Sergeant Desmond Carville, 42, duty officer at the station that day, told the inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court that it would have required a ``very close inspection'' to have revealed the hair-line crack.

Cells were normally examined after a prisoner was taken away to see if any vandalism had taken place and the fault must have gone unnoticed, he said.

Sergeant Carville was giving evidence on the fifth day of the inquiry into the death of Mr McCambridge, of Myrtle Park, Crosshill, Glasgow, who had been arrested on June 23 last year in the nearby Cumberland Street shopping arcade after he was seen taking part in a drug exchange.

A packet containing four temazepam tablets was found in his possession and he was charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act, and with obstructing the police.

Earlier, witnesses told Mrs Anne Donaldson, leading the evidence, that they saw the deceased ``crying in pain'' as he was marched to the police station with his arms up his back, and that later they heard screams coming from the direction of the police station.

Sergeant Carville said Mr McCambridge was brought in at 11.25am that Friday to be transferred later to Aikenhead Road police office for a court appearance on the Monday.

His possessions, including his belt, were removed but he was allowed to retain his trainer shoes and laces.

The officer said Mr McCambridge was quite calm, showed no sign of being under the influence of drugs or drink, but was obviously not pleased about being held over the weekend.

Sergeant Carville said when he joined the force 17 years ago it was the practice to remove a prisoner's laces but over a period of time this was changed to the discretion of duty officers in some stations.

``It was felt removing shoes and laces affected the dignity of the prisoner, but they were taken away if it was thought the person might use them to endanger themselves,'' he said.

The sergeant agreed that at the division's main police office at Aikenhead Road, shoes and laces were left outside cells.

Mrs Donaldson: ``Have matters changed at Gorbals police office regarding the removal of shoe laces?''

Sergeant Carville: ``As far as I am concerned laces are now removed. It is a personal decision on my part and I know that the divisional officer is in favour of that.''

The officer said he heard no screams coming from the cell area before Mr McCambridge was found hanged in his cell two hours after being admitted.

Questioned by Mr Peter McCann, lawyer for the McCambridge family, Sergeant Carville agreed duty officers should look for any potential danger signals regarding prisoners.

Mr McCann: ``Surely someone with a history of drug abuse and who is found with drugs allegedly in his possession might indicate behavioural problems?''

Sergeant Carville: ``I can only look at what is in front of me and he did not appear to be under the influence of any substance, and I also based my decision on my experience with this prisoner in the past.''

The inquiry before Sheriff Graham Johnston has been adjourned until August 5.