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Jury Identifies Prison’s Failings In Death Of Young Man In Custody

Irwin Mitchell’s specialised Public Law & Human Rights team were instructed by the mother of Mr A after his death while serving his sentence in prison. At the time of his death, he was located on the segregation unit of the prison and had been there for around three months.

During this time, Mr A had several disciplinary hearings, mainly for refusing to move back to his cell. He explained that he felt he may get into trouble on the other wings if he lost his temper. The prison therefore authorised Mr A’s continued segregation. Mr A complained that he was bullied by prison staff but his complaint was never investigated.

In the days leading up to Mr A’s death, he set fire to his cell and injured his head against a wall. He was placed in a ‘safe cell’. He was also placed on the ACCT regime, which aims to support prisoners at risk of self harm or suicide. Mr A was assessed by a mental health nurse and it was decided that he would be moved back to the segregation unit. This had to be carried out using control and restraint techniques.

The day following his return to the segregation unit, Mr A was found hanging in his cell. Prison officers and nurses administered CPR. Sadly Mr A died a couple of days later in hospital.

Irwin Mitchell represented Mr A’s mother at the inquest touching upon Mr A’s death. The family was concerned at the number and frequency of the prison disciplinary offences Mr A had been charged with in the month prior to his death. They were also concerned that allegations of bullying had not been investigated and that Mr A was assessed by healthcare staff as being fit to return to the segregation unit.

We worked closely with the family and counsel throughout the inquest to ensure that the family’s concerns were fully explored. We also ensured that detailed written submissions were provided to the Coroner on the issues that should be left to the jury at the end of the inquest, again to ensure that we did all we could to secure a positive outcome for the family.

The jury considered that the following issues contributed to Mr A’s death: his inability to cope with a disciplined regime, the failure of prison staff to address his anger management issues and a lack of centralisation records and inadequate sharing of information.

Following the outcome of the inquest, a civil claim is currently being considered. Mr A’s mother was very grateful for the help and support we were able to provide before, during and after the inquest.

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