Observations reduced on inmate with history of self harm in days before his death, inquest hears

Norwich prison. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich prison. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Observations on a man with a history of self harm who died in prison had been scaled back days before his death, an inquest has heard.

A jury inquest - scheduled to continue until Thursday - is ongoing into the death of Kenneth Martin, who died aged 37 at Norwich Prison on July 31 last year.

The inquest previously heard he had been found by prison staff bleeding from a wound, and despite resuscitation attempts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Martin had arrived at the prison on May 18 that year, and was under the care of its mental health team and a separate programme, known as an ACT.

The number of observations he received changed during his time at the prison, depending on his wellbeing - from as many as four times per hour to, just before his death, roughly once every two hours.

Nurse Julie Lemmon, who is part of the prison's mental health team, said Mr Martin had been doing well at a meeting on July 27, saying he seemed well and felt "future focused".

"He hoped he would go to a therapeutic prison when he was sentenced to help him overcome his drugs problems," she said, adding that they had considered closing the ACT because he was in a "good place".

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The number of observations was then lowered.

The optimism was echoed by prison officer Scott Quigley in an interview with the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman after Mr Martin's death. In it, he said while the number of observations may have been "unusually low", it was a reflection of the progress he had made.

During the inquest, doctor Allison Oguru, who provided GP services at the prison until the end of March this year, said he believed Mr Martin should have been in the healthcare wing, as opposed to wings B or C.

"He is a known self harmer," he said, "and the medication he was getting - because of the combination of those reasons, I thought he would be better served on the hospital wing."

He said he also felt there had not been enough of a multidisciplinary approach taken in Mr Martin's care.

But it was disputed by Ms Lemmon, who said the "focus, distraction and sense of purpose" provided on the main wings better suited Mr Martin, and said multiple teams had worked closely.

The medical cause of death was previously given as loss of blood after an incision.

The inquest continues.

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