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Prisoner found dead at Norwich Prison feared there was a price on his head

PUBLISHED: 18:33 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 20:09 14 May 2018

Luke Punchard was jailed for 16 months for robbery. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Luke Punchard was jailed for 16 months for robbery. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

A 26-year-old inmate found dead at Norwich Prison feared there was a price on his head, an inquest heard.

Luke Punchard, who was jailed for 18 months last year for robbery, was discovered hanged in his cell on June 2, 2017.

Evidence read out at a jury inquest in Norwich today stated Mr Punchard believed he was “under threat” from drug dealers.

Hours prior to his death, he produced an improvised weapon and later staged a “dirty protest”, smearing his chest and cell in faeces.

He told staff he was protesting as he did not want to be placed on a “normal” prison wing.

Area coroner Yvonne Blake said Mr Punchard was first remanded in custody at Norwich Prison, on Knox Road, on January 10 last year.

A Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) report stated that when he arrived, Mr Punchard initially raised no concerns about his wellbeing.

However, he was identified as needing drug and alcohol detoxification, and later revealed his psychiatric history.

Ms Blake, reading the report, said on the evening on January 30 he complained his food had been tampered with and set fire to his cell.

“He told staff he wanted to move off the residential unit,” Ms Blake said. “He believed there was a price on his head.”

The PPO report said Mr Punchard’s concerns were investigated, but nothing was found to substantiate them.

On March 8, two days after he was sentenced for robbery, he was transferred to HMP Wayland. Over the following weeks, he was transferred across to Norwich, Bure and Highpoint jails.

The inquest heard how he was returned to Norwich Prison on May 31 and went into segregation.

Kate Shaw, the prison’s mental health nurse, said on June 1, Mr Punchard appeared “quite sullen” but not depressed.

During an assessment with him, she said he produced a plastic kitchen knife, improvised to make it “more sturdy”, but did not threaten anyone.

Giving evidence, she said she felt he was trying to ensure he was kept in segregation.

The PPO report said Mr Punchard later staged a dirty protest. On June 2, at 5am, he was discovered hanged in his cell.

The inquest continues.

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