Prisoner With Brain Tumour Sent From Care Home to Jail

A former prisoner who is dying from a brain tumour has been recalled to jail for swearing at staff at a care home, it emerged yesterday. A prison watchdog has criticised the decision to recall Christopher Tierney, who is paralysed down one side, losing his sight and displaying behaviour that medical opinion says he cannot control.

Ella Pybus, a trustee of the charity Brain Tumour UK warned that he was likely to die in prison. “It is cruel and inhuman for a man who has served his sentence to be returned to prison to face a lonely and degrading death because of behaviour caused by a condition he cannot control, one that cannot be treated and that will end his life prematurely.”

Tierney was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986 for the murder of his wife. In 2004, he was diagnosed as having a brain tumour and was released from prison in March the following year, having been told that he had three years to live. Despite brain surgery and chemotherapy, his condition has deteriorated and he is described as behaving erratically and is subject to mood swings.

Initially placed in a probation hostel on his release, Mr Tierney, 55, was moved to a nursing home in Norwich which specialises in the care of people with brain injuries. The Guardian has learned that medical notes written by prison staff said he was likely to experience sudden mood swings and bouts of aggressive behaviour as a result of his condition.

Last Wednesday, probation officers recalled him to jail after he allegedly used abusive language towards a member of the nursing staff. He is now in the health care centre at Norwich prison. It is believed the decision was made by probation staff who did not know Mr Tierney because his parole officer was on holiday.

Raymond Bewry, a member of the independent monitoring board at Norwich jail, said health care staff were providing round-the-clock care for Mr Tierney but that nobody at the prison believed he should be there. Mr Bewry’s mother suffers from a similar condition . She was on the same ward as Mr Tierney in the neurological unit of Norfolk and Norwich University hospital, and was under the care of the same consultant. Mr Bewry said: “My mother receives care and consideration when she loses her temper; this extremely ill man has been sent to prison where I fear he will die.”

Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, has asked Norfolk’s chief probation officer for an urgent review of the decision.

A spokesman for Norfolk probation service said decisions to recall a prisoner were not taken lightly. “The protection of the public is always the key consideration,” she said. Nobody at the Oak Farm nursing home in Norwich was available for comment.