Suicide inmate's mother warned prison

Inquest hears staff were 'repeatedly' told of prisoner's deteriorating mental state

The mother of a prisoner who was found hanged in the segregation cell of a troubled privately run prison after being placed on suicide watch told an inquest yesterday how she repeatedly warned officers of her son's deteriorating mental state. The death of Michael Bailey, 23, at HMP Rye Hill near Rugby in Warwickshire led to the trial and subsequent acquittal of four serving prison officers. A damning inspectors' report in the month after his death found conditions at the jail to be "unsafe and unstable" for both inmates and staff.

The inquest jury heard that prison staff admitted to Carol Bailey that her son had been harming himself after she raised concerns over his unkempt appearance and increasingly erratic behaviour. She told the hearing atIrthlingborough, Northamptonshire, that he had been reciting hymns and had stab marks on his hands and scabs around his neck shortly before his death in March 2005.

She said she had tried to raise her concerns during a series of telephone calls to staff at Rye Hill. "I thought she [a female prison officer] would deal with it, either pass it on or go and check for herself, not just leave it. I was worried, very worried. I was very scared – I did not know what was happening and I had not seen anything like this before with Michael or anybody," she said.

Two days later, her son, from Ladywood, Birmingham, was found hanged. He was serving a four-year sentence at the prison when he died, the inquest heard. He would have been eligible for parole in November 2005 and due for release in 2006.

The inquest heard that Bailey suddenly changed from being a fit, confident and articulate young man to being subdued and quiet in the days leading up to his death. He was placed on suicide watch after being described as exhibiting "strange" behaviour – including taking his clothes off in the exercise yard, reciting the Lord's Prayer and mumbling incoherently.

Tom Osborne, assistant deputy coroner for Northamptonshire, said: "Over the course of a few days beginning on 18 March 2005 through to 24 March, he went from being a fit young man who was looking forward to being reunited with his family to a man who had become anguished, confused and, at times, violent."

Mr Osborne told the jury that during the inquest, which is expected to last up to six weeks, they should consider if the prison authorities took "reasonable steps" to prevent Bailey from taking his own life.

The inquest was told that Rye Hill had experienced problems with "illicit items" being brought into the category B prison, including drugs and mobile phones. Stephen Hepworth, who was head of operations at the jail at the time of Bailey's death, said when he visited him in the segregation unit on 21 March, and witnessed his "strange" behaviour, he thought that he had taken drugs.

Mr Hepworth, who worked as a suicide co-ordinator at another prison before joining Rye Hill, did not carry out a drugs test or search his cell, the jury heard. When asked why by the family's lawyer, Leslie Thomas, Mr Hepworth replied: "I do not recall why I did not make that decision." Mr Hepworth admitted that, with hindsight, he could have dealt with the situation differently.

The inquest continues.

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
news

As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity

Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
people
Life and Style
food and drink

Savoury patisserie is a thing now

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
news

Meet the primary school where every day is National Poetry Day

News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Services Team Leader

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a prog...

Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare high quality opportunity for a...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £50 per day: Randstad Education Group: Job opportunities for SEN Teachin...

Secondary teachers required in King's Lynn

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers re...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?