Inquiry after murder case man starves to death

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The Independent Online

Three separate inquiries have been ordered into the death of a man who starved himself in prison while awaiting trial for the murder of his newlywed daughter.

Terry Rodgers, 57, who admitted shooting Chanel Taylor, 23, at her home in Nottinghamshire in 2004, had been on hunger strike for five months.

He drew up a "living will" to ensure that the prison authorities could not force-feed or rehydrate him.

Rodgers, who died on Saturday evening, is thought to be only the second person to have died on hunger strike in a British prison in recent times. An animal rights activist killed himself in 2001.

Inquiries will now be conducted by the police, Lincoln jail, where he was being kept on remand, and the ombudsman for the Prison Service to ensure that no crime was committed and that procedures were properly followed.

The former head of a security firm shot dead his daughter weeks after he gave her away at her wedding. His attempt to have the charges reduced to manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility failed and he was to face a murder trial next month.

His motives are unknown, but friends have linked it to the breakdown of his 30-year marriage and financial problems.

In the early summer of 2004 he left his marital home in South Normanton, Derbyshire, and for several weeks lived rough.

According to a family friend Rodgers was rescued from an embankment by his daughter after taking a cocktail of pills and alcohol.

In June 2004 his daughter, a hairdresser, and Lee Taylor, 23, a musician, were married. Rodgers rode with his daughter in a vintage limousine before giving her away at a register office ceremony. The newlyweds invited Rodgers to stay at their terraced house in the former mining village of Huthwaite, until he could find his own home.

Friends said Rodgers had been told he must leave the couple's house before they returned from a honeymoon in Mexico.

Seven weeks after the wedding Rodgers shot his daughter in the head in the dining room of her home. The body was found by her husband on 30 July 2004 and a shotgun was later discovered in the house.

Rodgers drove several miles to Hucknall, where he abandoned the car and went into hiding in dense woodland. There he constructed a makeshift shelter for himself. His family, including his son Colt, made numerous appeals for him to give himself up but he eluded police for nearly three weeks. When he was finally found, a gaunt-looking Rodgers surrendered without a struggle after being surrounded by armed officers.

Rodgers went on hunger strike on Christmas Eve 2004, telling staff he wished to die "as quietly as possible". Within hours of being read his last rites, Mr Rodgers was declared mentally unfit to starve himself to death and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and force fed.

He began to eat again, but in early 2005 drew up an "advanced directive" or living will in which he was assessed as being mentally sane and stated that he did not want to be force fed. A spokeswoman for the Prison Service said any prisoner who chose to refuse medical intervention was entitled to do so as long as he or she was deemed mentally fit.

When Rodgers appeared in court in June 2005, his defence counsel, Stephen Ferguson, said he accepted that he had killed Mrs Taylor. Mr Ferguson said: "In conference, he does his very best to focus ... talk frequently comes back to his daughter and the after-life in general."

In October 2005 he went back on hunger strike and became progressively weaker. On Saturday at 2.25pm staff at Lincoln jail became alarmed at his condition and he was taken to Lincoln County Hospital, where he died at 6.13pm.

The last person to die during a hunger strike was Barry Horne, an animal rights activist convicted of a campaign of arson attacks. He died in 2001 after a series of hunger strikes in protest against vivisection.