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Gareth Myatt

Gareth MyattYouth dies at detention centre

by Mikey Powell Campaign
Originally published 29th September 2004
Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Gareth Myatt of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was 15 years old when he died days after starting a sentence at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Northants. He was being restrained by staff when he lost consciousness, Gareth was one of the youngest people to die in the British prison system, and sparked further fury and debate about methods of restraint used in Young Offender Institutions (YOI’s).

A post-mortem examination in April 2004 had proved inconclusive. Officers investigating the death initially revealed Gareth was being restrained by three members of staff (two men and a woman) when he lost consciousness.

Detective Chief Inspector Charles Moffat, from Northamptonshire Police’s homicide and major crime team said the purpose of his investigation was to determine whether criminal charges should be brought at an individual or corporate level. “This is an extremely serious incident which will be investigated most thoroughly with the full cooperation of the other agencies involved,” he said. “Our findings will be passed to both the coroner and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Rainsbrook Secure Training Unit Detective Chief Inspector Charles Moffat added: “The incident occurred at about 9.15pm and it was necessary for staff to exercise their normal techniques of physical control and care in dealing with Gareth, while that procedure was being undertaken he lost consciousness.”

Following a post mortem examination at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, police said further tests will need to be carried out.

An ambulance was called to the detention unit after Gareth reportedly lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry. Northamptonshire Police said a senior investigating officer has been appointed to oversee the case and an incident room has been set up at Towcester Police Station. The privately run Rainsbrook Centre houses 76 youngsters aged from 12 to 17, most of whom have been convicted of serious crimes.

After Gareth’s death, The Youth Justice Board announced that it had suspended the use of the “seated double embrace restraint” – which involves securing the youngster in a hold while on a chair or bed – was suspended.

This was applied within all juvenile centres’ pending a full review into the potential medical implications of the hold. The three guards had not been suspended, but a spokesman said they had been removed from duties directly involving children while the police investigation continued.

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Follow-up News:

Use of restraint blamed for prison death of boy, 15
29 June 2007

Statement from the Howard League for Penal Reform in response to the death of 15 year old Gareth Myatt
8 March 2007

Boy’s death in secure unit ‘a disaster waiting to happen’
16 February 2007

Youth jail faces death probe
11 February 2007

No charges over detained boy’s death
6 January 2006

INQUEST Press Release (pdf file – off-site)
19 December 2005

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