Teenage killer allowed to die after suicide attempt

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A teenage murderer who tried to kill himself in jail has been allowed to die in hospital after being kept alive on a life support machine in hospital for two days.

Andrew Sheehan, 18, from Northampton, had tried to hang himself in his cell at Swinfen Hall young offenders' institution, near Lichfield in Staffordshire, on Sunday. He was found by prison staff who cut him down and gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Sheehan briefly regained consciousness but his condition deteriorated after he was taken to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment. He was placed on a life-support machine but had suffered serious brain damage. Doctors decided there was nothing more they could do and Sheehan was allowed to die at 1pm yesterday.

The prison service said last night that it had begun an inquiry into the circumstances of the teenager's death.

Sheehan, who pleaded guilty to the murder, had been convicted in June of killing Stephen Reilly, a 66-year-old pensioner who was murdered in his flat after being subjected to two hours of torture. Oxford Crown Court heard that Sheehan had made two separate attacks on Mr Reilly at the retired Irish labourer's flat in Northampton one night last September.

In the attacks, the teenager, who was 17 at the time, ripped out the pensioner's intercom telephone, took his keys and locked the door so that he could make no appeal for help. Returning later he beat, stabbed and stripped the elderly man, leaving him lying in a pool of blood.