Young man commits suicide after less than 24 hours in prison
originally by: 4WardEver Campaign
published: 25th April 2006
Any news updates listed at the foot of this item
24-year-old Wesley, originally from Ruislip, Greater London, had been in prison for less than a day when he was found hanging from his cell room window on 19th April 2005. He had used bed sheets to hang himself from the bars.
Wesley was caught shoplifting cheese and milk from a London branch of Sainsbury’s on Saturday 16th April 2005, he was arrested and charged. Because he had no fixed address to be bailed to, he was remanded into custody at Brixton Prison after a weekend in Kennington police station.
Wesley’s mother, Gina Webb, believes her son’s crime and suicide were “a cry for help.” She only knew of her son’s death when her hysterical and crying daughter arrived at the family’s’ home in the early hours of the morning accompanied by two police officers. The only information that the officers were able to give the family was that Wesley had been “found dead.” It later transpired that at the point of that conversation neither Gina nor the police knew Wesley was in prison.
Gina has been quoted as saying “I had nothing to go on, just that one statement thrown in my face, “Where did it happen? How did it happen? Was it an accident? Was he murdered?’ It didn’t matter what I asked, the answer was ‘Sorry, we don’t know’.” It was more than 24 hours later before she found out what had happened to her son and a further day before she was able to identify the body.
Wesley had drifted into homelessness in his early 20’s. He was sleeping rough at the time of his arrest and his mother suspects that he “wanted to get caught so he would have a roof over his head for the weekend.”
It was revealed at the inquest into his death that he had mental health support needs. It also transpired that officers at Kennington police station were concerned about his state of mind and called a doctor who diagnosed that Wesley displayed “signs of increasing paranoia.” The doctor’s note was not seen by anyone at Brixton prison.
Staff from the prison said they judged Wesley’s mental state based on conversations with staff and the answers he gave to a medical questionnaire. They went on to outline that his responses did not give them any cause for alarm even though had he admitted self-harming previously. Under the prison’s own procedures, such an admission meant that Wesley should have been referred for a mental health assessment which would have seen him placed on suicide watch.
Cell Death Prisoners Paranoia
17 March 2006
Jury verdict at McGoldrick inquests (pdf file)
17 March 2006
Figures for Prison Suicides – 2005
(from the BBC)