An inmate accused of being an informant kills himself in prison
Compiled from various sources
4WardEver UK 5th February 2005
Updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item
An inmate concerned for his safety following claims that he was an informant took his own life at Durham’s Frankland prison. He was called a “grass” within 20 minutes of arriving at a North-East prison. Paul Day, aged 31, of Basildon, Essex, had been serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for robberies.
He was sentenced to a further six months for a serious assault on a fellow prisoner convicted of a sex offence. Mr Day had endured verbal abuse and had urine thrown at him when he was admitted to the Prison. He was also told there was a price on his head.
His mother, Pauline Day, said she felt she was misled by a governor at Wandsworth Prison into believing her son would be placed in a witness protection unit at Frankland, but it emerged that the prison did not in fact have such a unit, and her son was placed in the prisons’ segregation.
It is alleged that prison officers urged Mr Day on when he was threatening to jump from a gantry to throw himself to his death, the inquest was told.
Although he was eventually persuaded to climb down, the vulnerable inmate was later found hanged in his cell. The inquest heard from a prison officer how staff had urged Mr Day to jump during his protest at Wandsworth Prison, in London.
Principal Prison Officer Andy Toppin told the hearing, at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court, in County Durham, that it was his job to talk down Day. But he said, “It didn’t help that other staff who were there were behaving in an unprofessional manner, giving him abuse and shouting at him to jump.”
Mr Toppin said that instead of isolating the area, staff had let other prisoners in from the exercise yard, and they joined in a chorus of: “Let him fall.” Mr Toppin agreed with Leslie Thomas, the lawyer representing Day’s parents, that this was “outrageous conduct”.
Paul Day had claimed that a senior officer at the prison had betrayed him by telling other prisoners he was an informer. He told a prison chaplain that he was afraid of reprisals because he had been passing information to prison authorities. He also claimed to have worked with corrupt policemen when he was out of jail. The Reverend Deacon Peter Heneghan, Wandsworth prison chaplain, recalls, “When I saw him, he threw himself at me crying like a baby.”
Day claimed the police had given him information to carry out robberies in return for a cut of the proceeds. Mark Poulton, Wandsworth’s principal officer in charge of security, denied Day’s claim that he had deliberately or inadvertently revealed his identity as an informer.
Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle was told Day had served his time in Wandsworth on separate occasions, as well as having spells at Parkhurst, Pentonville, Cardiff, Highdown and finally Frankland. It also emerged that Day had been transferred to Frankland Prison against the wishes of his family, who feared he would not get the support he needed. But they had been assured by then governor Philip Reilly that he would be kept in a safe environment.
Prison staff failed to protect Paul when he was at his most vulnerable. The inquest heard that Mr Day had been involved in a number of climbing incidents, suicide attempts and dirty protests. An emotional Mrs Day read out a letter her son had written to her after his arrival at Frankland in August, 2002.
He said, “Mum, I was on the bus on the way down and I really thought this was a fresh start for me. Instead, I was walking in the exercise yard and, within 20 minutes, I had prisoners throwing urine on me … and was being called a grass. “They screamed at me and told me that I had a £20,000 bounty on my head. “Once back in my cell, I couldn’t stop crying for hours and I was without a radio to drown out the abuse.”
Douglas Graham, then a governor at Frankland, said he learned that Mr Day was already being transported from Wandsworth, without him having been given prior warning. He said, “I was annoyed, because it is important to have a grip on who is coming into the establishment, especially with a prisoner identified as presenting problems.”
Coroner Andrew Tweddle was also told that, during a 17-day period at another prison, HMP Highdown, Paul Day had attempted suicide at least three times. On one occasion, he had jumped from a 25ft drop with a ligature around his neck. Warders were able to lift his weight and cut him down.
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From the parents of Paul Day (Word file)
Andy and I have received a letter from Anne Owers. She tells us that the Thematic Review into segregation units in dispersal prisons is to be published on 18th October.
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