Special report: '˜Lessons must be learned' say Woodhill death family
The heartbroken family of a man who hanged himself at Woodhill prison have hit out at the 'failures' that led to his death.
MORE ON WOODHILL PRISON SUICIDES
When 31-year-old Thomas Morris died nine weeks ago, his entire family vowed to fight for justice and ensure no other prisoner lost his life in the same way.
Yet already, since that fateful day, there have been TWO more deaths at Woodhill.
“This is absolutely appalling,” said Thomas’s cousin, Paige Boyle, who is speaking out on behalf of the family. “We vowed Thomas would not die in vain and we will not give up until questions are answered and action is taken.”
Thomas, the eldest son of loving parents, lived in Emberton. Sadly he developed an addiction to Class A drugs and was sent to prison after funding this addiction through shoplifting.
“He needed help and he was failed badly. He did not deserve to lose his life as a consequence of this,” said Paige.
“If the prison cannot provide sufficient care for vulnerable people suffering from addictions then those people should not be in prison. They need rehabilitation. Thomas was showing signs of serious mental health issues and needed serious help. All of this was ignored by the officers,” she added.
Thomas was the 14th person to die at Woodhill since 2013. His family has researched the other suicides and find the similarities “harrowing”.
Six weeks before his death, Thomas made an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Days later he threw a TV off his landing in cry for help.
“We have witnesses (other inmates) to say he begged for help on a daily basis. He was showing textbook signs of paranoia and schizophrenia,” said Paige.
Yet instead of help, the prison moved Thomas to another wing, with no familiar faces, and put him in a cell alone.
“We believe he was punished for being suicidal,” said Paige.
In his single cell, Thomas was found hanging from the window frame with a ligature made out of a bedsheet.
Five weeks later inmate Daniel Dunkley was found in what are believed to be identical circumstances. Last week inmate David Raynor died in allegedly the same manner.
Paige said: “Lessons have not been learned. We can’t bring Thomas back, but we will fight until the very end.”
Woodhill governor Rob Davis once likened inmates’ suicides to BUSES, saying “they all come at once.”
Before Mr Davis came to Woodhill he was governor of Chelmsford prison, where he was questioned by Essex Live about seven suicides that had happened under his reign.
He told the news site:
“It is not a nice thing to deal with, having people die under your custody.
But it is just one of those things that happens, as we do not know what people are suffering from behind closed doors.”
He added: “We had not had any deaths for a long time, but like buses they all come along at once.”
This statement has outraged the family of Milton Keynes victim Thomas Morris.
“I cannot believe that a man in charge of making decisions about the wellbeing of more than 800 inmates could refer to tragic suicides in the same sentence as buses. In our view he should not be in charge of a prison.” said Thomas’s cousin Paige.
CITIZEN ASKS WOODHILL FOR A RESPONSE
The Citizen called Woodhill prison and asked to talk to governor Rob Davis about the spate of deaths.
A receptionist told us: “We are not allowed to put calls through to Mr Davis”.Woodhill referred us to the press office at the Ministry of Justice.
We left a message to ask if any changes were planned to prevent any more tragedies in the future at Woodhill prison.
We also wanted to know if the government was planning its own investigation.
We are still awaiting a response.