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Sarah Campbell

Sarah CampbellMother’s fight for prison changes

by Mikey Powell Campaign
Originally published 29th September 2004

Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Sarah Campbell, who had suffered from clinical depression, was jailed for manslaughter in January 2003, a day later she was dead. The 18-year-old apparently died after taking an overdose of prescription drugs at Styal Prison in Cheshire.

Her mother, Pauline, has been calling for Prison Service changes ever since. She has welcomed the chief inspector of prisons’ report calling for women such as Sarah to be sent to secure units.

Pauline said “My daughter should have been sent to a secure hospital, not to a jail, and if that had happened I think it’s very likely she would still be alive.”

But she was sent to Styal Prison for three years after being dubiously convicted of the manslaughter of ex-serviceman Amrit Bhandari.

Mr Bhandari suffered a heart attack and died after Sarah and another woman, Kim Woolley, 31, from Fazakerley in Liverpool, accosted him in Chester city centre. A court had heard that Mr Bhandari, who had a heart condition, died of fright after Woolley accused him of rape.

Sarah fell into two of the categories which prisons inspector Anne Owers believes put prisoners most at risk of self harm and suicide. It was the start of her sentence and she suffered from a mental illness. Her mother says she had been drug-free for eight months. Mrs Campbell, of Malpas, Cheshire, said: “Sarah had spent six months on remand at Styal, and was in a state of terror about going back there.”

Mother, Pauline Campbell said, “My daughter should have been sent to a secure hospital, not to a jail, and if that had happened I think it’s very likely she would still be alive. “During Sarah’s time on remand at Styal from May to November 2002, Mrs Campbell says she visited her daughter every other day and also received letters from her.

Sarah was her only child. “Every time I visited I saw a marked deterioration in her mental and physical state. “She didn’t receive the care she needed to treat her addiction and she was kept locked in her cell for 23 hours a day,” Mrs Campbell recalled.

She blames the overcrowding, under-staffing and under-funding of the prison service. “I am appalled by what I have found out about the Prison Service since Sarah’s death. “I can never be a grandmother now and I will be fighting for changes for the rest of my days.”

The Prison Service said an investigation was under way into deaths at Styal Prison and that it could not comment on individual cases or allegations while the inquiry was ongoing. The jail was in the process of redesigning the remand wing and was getting £200,000 extra funding to recruit more staff for it, a spokesman added. It is claimed that Sarah Campbell was in the segregation block of the prison for her own protection at the time of her death, not on the remand wing.

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Follow-up News:

Shameful admission
27 September 2006

My daughter’s death and failure in the jails
20 August 2006

Jail ‘warned’ of woman’s overdose
10 January 2005

Radio 4 Women’s Hour – Interview with Pauline Campbell
31 August 2004

Prison death protestor arrested
4May 2004

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