Homeless man due to face trial for the attempted murder of two schoolboys found dead in prison cell

The cause of death is at this stage unconfirmed

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A homeless man who was due to face trial for the attempted murder of two schoolboys has been found dead in his prison cell.

Richard Walsh, 43, was accused of stabbing two children, aged 12 and 13, in a street in Havant, Hampshire, last month.

He appeared in court in June, and was remanded in custody to Belmarsh Prison in south-east London.

Pirson staff found Walsh unresponsive in his cell this morning. Whilst staff and paramedics attempted to save his life, he was pronounced dead. The cause of death is at this stage unconfirmed.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "HMP Belmarsh prisoner Richard Walsh was found unresponsive in his cell on Sunday 19 July. Staff attempted CPR but paramedics pronounced him dead at 11.07am.

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

Whilst the details in this death remain unclear, questions are likely to be raised once again about the safety of prisoners in Belmarsh, which has a capacity for up to 910 inmates.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for the London prison has raised concerns about the record of deaths in custody  at the prison.

The IMB for Belmarsh Prison, which is a statutory body made up of volunteers who monitor prisoner welfare, found in its most recent report that there were eight outstanding Coroner’s inquests into deaths of prisoners there, one dating back to 2011, which they have labelled “unacceptable.”

The report, which was released in 2014, noted there were two deaths in custody there last year, at least one of which “raised concerns about procedures and practices around the Reception of new prisoners.”

According to Inquest, a charity that campaigns around deaths in custody, there were 242 deaths in prisons last year, up from 216 in 2013.

Deborah Coles, a co-director of the charity, said: "The last five years has seen a 40% increase in self inflicted deaths in prison. Every death raises important questions about whether the risk of suicide was identified and acted upon. 

"Time and again Inquest's casework with the families of those who die reveals systemic failings in the treatment and care of vulnerable people. Overcrowding, poor staffing, impoverished regimes and conditions means that many prisons are places where the safety of prisoners is increasingly under threat. "

The Ministry of Justice told The Independent: "All deaths in custody are investigated by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman."