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Death of inmate found hanged at Norwich prison was ‘misadventure’

PUBLISHED: 18:41 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:44 25 September 2018

HMP Norwich, where Matthew Gray was found hanged. Photo : Steve Adams

HMP Norwich, where Matthew Gray was found hanged. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

A prisoner found hanged in his cell after he was threatened by fellow inmates died by misadventure, an inquest jury concluded.

Matthew Gray, 31, was found by prison officers at HMP Norwich on March 20 last year 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 self-harm in custody and of drug and alcohol misuse.

Less than two weeks before he died, he leaped on to safety netting at the prison so he would be switched to a segregation unit.

When prison officers asked him to move from that unit four days before he died, he refused. He was allowed three more days in it, but was then put into restraints and moved back to the main wing, where he was found hanged later that day.

A jury concluded today that he died by misadventure.

In a written record of inquest accompanying the 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 contributed 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: “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.”

• People can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

MORE: Public would be ‘horrified’ to know what was going on at Norwich Prison

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