Inquest opens into death of inmate founding hanging in cell at Milton Keynes prison

An inquest has started today into the death of a 39-year-old man at Woodhill Prison - one of four inmates to die at the jail this year.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 5:09 pm
HMP Woodhill Milton Keynes

Darren Williams, was found hanging from a ligature in his cell in January and could not be revived.

He had previously attempted suicide at the prison and had been monitored under suicide prevention (ACCT) procedures.

The inquest, which is expected to last for 10 days, will examine Woodhill's use of these procedures.

Mr Williams' family are represented by lawyers from the charity INQUEST, which provides expertise on state-related deaths.

The family say he had a history of anxiety, depression, self-harm and substance misuse.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison in May 2018, but then his sentence was increased following a successful appeal by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Williams' family say this hit him hard and he struggled to cope. He had also complained of being threatened by other inmates because of debts he owed.

He was the first of four men to die this year at the jail, which has been criticised as “not safe enough” in the latest prison inspection.

Woodhill had the highest number of self-inflicted deaths of any prison in England and Wales between 2013 and 2016, when a total of 18 inmates took their own lives.

Some of the bereaved families were granted a judicial review, aiming to address the high number of deaths. But In May 2017 the High Court rejected their claims.

Following the public pressure brought by the families, an independent review by Stephen Shaw was commissioned to examine the circumstances of these deaths.

After the review, it was announced that Woodhill would convert from a local prison to a category B training establishment. In 2017 there were no self-inflicted deaths at the prison.

In 2018 there were four deaths in Woodhill Prison - a homicide, a drugs related death, a non self-inflicted death and a self-inflicted death, say INQUEST.