AN OXFORD law student who died in police custody was arrested after punching a girl twice in the face and then threatening to stab her family with a kitchen knife, a court heard.

A jury inquest began today at Oxford Coroner’s Court into Nuno Cardoso's death.

The Ruskin College student, who was born in Angola but grew up in London's Kentish Town, went into cardiac arrest while in the back of a police van being transported to Abingdon Police Station at around 5.20am on November 24, 2017.

The van pulled over at Redbridge park-and-ride off Abingdon Road, but despite the efforts of paramedics and staff at the John Radcliffe, Mr Cardoso died at the hospital that evening.

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The 25-year-old’s cause of death was given as cardio-respiratory arrest due to drug intoxication - involving alcohol, cocaine and morphine, but the inquest will look into the events surrounding his arrest.

Oxford Mail:

Picture of law student Nuno Cardoso, by Saunders Law/PA Wire

The jury heard a statement from Mr Cardoso’s ex-girlfriend Ciara Hulbert saying the initial assault that led to his arrest took place in his bedroom at Bowen House, on the college's Dunstan Road campus, after she and her friend Mutaya Jules went to talk with him around midnight.

She said he had been drinking and seemed fine at first but then ‘kept crying’ before telling them both to get out and then becoming violent when they tried to leave.

She described his actions as 'out of character'.

Oxford Mail:

Ruskin College, Headington. Picture via Google Maps

Ms Jules, in her statement, said Mr Cardoso punched her once in the face near her left eye - so hard she fell on the bed - and then a second time in the face.

She said: “I threw a drink at him and managed to get away by kicking him with the bottoms of my feet.

“I was unable to leave because he had grabbed me by the hair.”

Another student, Aiden Leach, heard the shouting and came out of his room.

He pulled Ms Jules away from Mr Cardoso, and was also punched in the face during the fracas.

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Ms Jules said she then called her family who went to confront Mr Cardoso who 'smiled and nodded' before going into his room and coming out with a 'five or six inch' kitchen knife.

The jury heard in person from Owain Davies, who also lived in the halls of residence and was Student Union president at the time.

He witnessed the confrontation, saying Mr Cardoso said to Ms Jules’ family 'come at me and I'll stab you'.

He insisted, though, that while his words were threatening, he did not believe the other student would have hurt anyone.

Mr Davies explained: “He never gestured with it. I think it was just words.”

Police were called but Mr Cardoso had already left the college campus and, despite a helicopter and dog search, officers were unable to find him until they received a call he had returned to the halls of residence just before 5am.

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Body-worn camera footage from PC Robert Prout and CCTV from the halls of residence showing Mr Cardoso's arrest were played in court.

PC Prout frequently asked the student ‘Nuno, are you okay mate?’ as Mr Cardoso mumbled in response.

One officer could be seen on the footage hitting Mr Cardoso twice with a baton while the student was on the ground, in an attempt to get him to release his arms so they could handcuff him, with another striking and punching his thigh.

Kieron Winters, residential warden during the incident, witnessed part of the arrest and said the student had seemed drunk or ‘under the influence of something’.

Along with a picture of Mr Cardoso on display to the jury of five men and four women, a statement was also read out from his mother Doroteia de Santos to end the first day.

She described her son as 'happy-go-lucky' and a 'joker' who was 'growing into the man he was destined to be', adding: "He told me he was going to be the best lawyer in the country."

The inquest continues tomorrow with evidence from the officers involved in Mr Cardoso’s arrest.