12th Nov, 2019

'Same old failings' - plea after another prisoner suicide at HMP Hewell

Correspondent 30th Jun, 2019

DESPITE a coroner’s call for changes following an inquest into the death of a prisoner at HMP Hewell between Redditch and Bromsgrove, a judge has heard that another man has taken his own life at the jail.

Saul Thomas, 42, of Edgecote Close, Rugby, was on remand at Hewell facing charges at Warwick Crown Court of wounding with intent and aggravated vehicle taking.

At a hearing last month it was said he was alleged to have wounded his aunt with a knife during an incident at her home on April 13.

He was said to have then taken her car and driven to Rugby police station where he crashed into a police vehicle.

The case was adjourned for a psychiatric report to be prepared on Thomas, who was remanded in custody. However at a further hearing on Friday, June 21, prosecutor Ben Close said Thomas, who was believed to have been on the hospital wing at the prison, had taken his own life.

Mr Close said: “HMP Hewell have confirmed that he died on May 19, two days after the last hearing.”

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano duly certified that Thomas was dead and ordered a stay of the indictment he had faced.

The news was revealed to the court just days after the publication of comments by the Worcestershire coroner who said HMP Hewell was ‘in need of urgent and radical overhaul for the protection of prisoners’.

Coroner Geraint Williams was speaking out in a report he made following an inquest in December into the death of 30-year-old Kelvin Speakman, who had hanged himself at the jail in 2016.

In the report sent to the Prison Service and HMP Hewell in February, he said that notwithstanding assurances that lessons had been learned, ‘the same failings appear time and time again’.

And in the report, to which he required a response from the prison within 56 days, Mr Williams stressed: “In my opinion there is a risk that further deaths will occur unless action is taken.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “HMP Hewell prisoner Saul Thomas died in prison on 19 May 2019 and our condolences are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

“As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”

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