Prisoner who was found hanged in cell faced threats over drug debts, inquest hears

Norwich Prison. Photo: Steve Adams

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

A prisoner who faced threats from other inmates over his drug debts was found hanged in his cell days after he was moved back onto a main wing, an inquest has heard.

Matthew Gray, 31, was found at HMP Norwich on March 20 last year and died in hospital two days later, a hearing in Norwich was told on Monday.

Norfolk area coroner Yvonne Blake said he had been threatened over his drug debts, had a known history of incidents of self-harm in custody and was on a mental health care plan.

'He told staff he was under threat from other prisoners but measures were ineffective,' she said.

'Matthew did name the prisoners who were threatening him but there's no evidence this was investigated.'

He had jumped onto safety netting on March 8 and was moved into a segregation unit, Ms Blake said. She said he refused the leave the unit when asked on March 16, and was put into restraints and moved back onto the main wing.

Mental health nurse Kate Shaw said Mr Gray was receiving victim support and had a history of drug and alcohol misuse.

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Mr Gray had been recalled to prison on July 23, 2016, for breaching the terms of his licence, Ms Blake said.

The inquest is listed for nine days with a jury.

Just last month we told of staff concerns about the conditions at the Knox Road jail. Assaults were said to be commonplace, with inmates using improvised weapons and boiling water to attack officers.

Staff claimed such incidents were partly behind the high number of officers currently on sick leave or restricted duties.

One officer is said to have been on sick leave for more than 12 months after being stabbed in the neck. Officers also said drugs, including the synthetic cannabis substitute Spice, were regularly found inside the prison.

One member of staff said contraband was sometimes thrown over the walls, or smuggled inside by prisoners on recall. Last week around 80 members of staff walked out of the prison.

The action, which prison officers insisted was not a strike, comes after attacks on staff at the jail have risen dramatically over the past couple of years.