Families of prisoners who killed themselves express their anger

Dean Saunders
Dean Saunders

source: The Guardian
published: 21 April 2019

When Dean Saunders was 25, he was suddenly gripped by a mental health crisis. Convinced his family wanted to harm him, he attacked his brother with a knife. Then, as his father, Mark, tried to stop him from harming himself, he stabbed him in the stomach. A few minutes later, apparently unaware of what he had done, Dean said to Mark: “Dad, I’d never hurt you. I love you.”

The police arrested Saunders, a seriously ill young father, and charged him with two counts of attempted murder. But they told the family they understood he was unwell, and that he would be transferred to a hospital.

“We were under the impression this transfer was happening. He had to have two psychiatric assessments to put the transfer into motion. But it sort of never seemed to materialise,” Saunders’ partner Clare Hobday-Saunders said. In January 2016, 18 days after he was sent to Chelmsford prison, Saunders killed himself.

A report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman notes: “We are concerned that healthcare staff at Chelmsford did not fully understand the correct process for transferring prisoners under the Mental Health Act. This led to a delay in Mr Saunders’ transfer to hospital.”

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