Barbecue killer taken off suicide watch three days before jail death

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The Independent Online

The man arrested over a double murder at a family barbecue two weeks ago died in jail on Sunday after slitting his throat He had been taken off suicide watch just three days earlier.

The man arrested over a double murder at a family barbecue two weeks ago died in jail on Sunday after slitting his throat He had been taken off suicide watch just three days earlier.

Stuart Horgan, who had been remanded in custody accused of gunning down his wife and her sister on 6 June, slashed his throat and body with the blade from a dismantled disposable razor.

The suicide happened at Woodhill Prison, near Milton Keynes, where Ian Huntley, the Soham murderer, tried to take an overdose a year ago, triggering criticism of insufficient care.

The Prison Service said Horgan attended a case conference on Thursday where it was decided that he was no longer a suicide risk. "He had a full case review with all the staff there," said a spokeswoman. "He was taken off the watch. When prisoners are present, there has to be an element of trust that they are not manipulating you."

A Home Office spokesman said that Horgan, 39, had not been on suicide watch since being taken into Prison Service custody on 11 June. After the case conference, Horgan was moved from the jail's healthcare wing to a single cell in the segregation unit and was due to start working as a cleaner, the spokeswoman said.

Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, said: "I find it astonishing that this man was taken off a suicide watch so soon after appearing in court and facing the rest of his life in prison. This is not the first time this has happened at Woodhill. Ian Huntley did precisely the same thing a year ago and came within an inch of taking his own life. This is the kind of tragedy that happens when prisons are overcrowded - suicide procedures need to be strengthened."

Horgan is believed to have scaled a garden wall to force his way into the barbecue, in the picturesque village of Highmoor Cross, Oxfordshire. He opened fire on his wife, Vicky, 27, and her 25-year-old sister, Emma Walton, as Mrs Horgan's daughter Jade, seven, and the child they had together, Bobbie, three, watched.

Horgan's mother-in-law, Jacqueline Walton, 55, was wounded in the attack but is now out of intensive care. It is believed that Horgan first fired at Jacqueline Walton, before chasing his wife into the house and shooting her in the head. He is understood to have then returned to the garden and shot Emma Walton dead as she tried to call police. He escaped from the scene and was arrested in Peterborough.

He was last seen in public on Friday when he made a short appearance at Oxford Crown Court where he was remanded in custody until 13 August.