Inquest concludes vulnerable prisoner found hanging in cell died by misadventure

A prisoner who had been threatened by other inmates and was found hanging in his cell died by misadventure, an inquest jury has concluded.

Matthew Gray, 31, was found by prison officers at HMP Norwich (pictured) on March 20 2017 and died in hospital two days later, a hearing in Norwich was told.

Norfolk area coroner Yvonne Blake said earlier in the seven-day inquest that Mr Gray had accumulated drug debts, was threatened because of these and had reported the threats to staff.

She said he had a known history of incidents of self-harm in custody and of drug and alcohol misuse.

He jumped onto safety netting on March 8 in order to be moved to a segregation unit.

He refused to leave the segregation unit when asked on March 16 but was put into restraints and moved back to the main wing on March 20.

A jury concluded on Tuesday that he died by misadventure.

In a written record of inquest accompanying the short-form conclusion, jurors said Mr Gray had told staff of “specific individuals that he was indebted to”.

“Evidence suggests this information was not adequately communicated to relevant staff which could have significantly contribute to Matthew’s emotional state,” the record of inquest said.

“Although there were systems and processes in place to provide historical information about prisoners, evidence indicates that staff are limited by time and resource and often operate without full awareness of a situation.

“We find that officers operate as adequately as possible, given these limitations.”

The family’s solicitor Alice Hardy, of Hodge Jones & Allen, said after the hearing: “Matthew Gray was the first of three young prisoners to die at HMP Norwich between March and July last year.

“His inquest has highlighted the significant strain that prison officers were under due to a severe lack of time and resources.

“This meant that too little was done to protect Matthew from known risks to himself and from others.

“It is hoped that increases in resourcing and staffing levels are made so that desperate and vulnerable young men are properly protected.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Chris Radburn / PA Wire.