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Norwich Prison inmate took his own life, inquest jury concludes

PUBLISHED: 14:53 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:40 21 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

An 26-year-old inmate who was found dead in a cell at Norwich Prison took his own life, an inquest jury has concluded.

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 the start of his inquest in Norwich on May 14 claimed he feared there was a price on his head.

In the hours prior to his death, he produced an improvised weapon and staged a “dirty protest” in his segregated cell.

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

An inquest jury concluded on Friday, May 18, that Mr Punchard died by suicide following a history of anxiety, stress and dissocial personality disorder.

His cause of death was given as hanging.

At the start of the inquest, 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.

“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 he was transferred to HMP Wayland, but was later sent to Bure and Highpoint jails over the following weeks. He was returned to Norwich Prison on May 31 and went into segregation.

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

She said he produced a plastic knife during an assessment, 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. On June 2, at 5am, he was discovered hanged in his cell.

The coroner did not make a report to prevent future deaths under Regulation 28.

• The Samaritans operate a 24-hour phone service for people dealing with suicidal thoughts on 116 123

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