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Inquest reopens into the death of Stafford Prison inmate

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 24, 2014

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A YOUNG prisoner who had threatened to kill himself was found hanged in his cell just days after being transferred to Stafford Prison.

An inquest into the death of Kieron Dowdall reopened

today at Stafford Crown Court and is expected to run for five days.

Mr Dowdall, originally from Lancashire, was just 24 when he died at Stafford Prison on January 27, 2012.

He had been ordered to serve at least three and a half years’ custody when he was given an indeterminate prison sentence in November 2006, when he was 19.

His mother, Doreen Williams, told the inquest it was hoped he could come to live with her in Wales on his release.

But she added:“The Welsh have a sex offenders’ register and they wouldn’t accept him in Wales.”

In 2010 he had been moved to a Category D, or “open” prison, North Sea Camp, in Lincolnshire.

But on January 9 2012, when he was due to have an authorised visit to his family, he absconded earlier in the day, the inquest heard, with the intention of taking his own life.

Mrs Williams said: “He told me he was going to jump in front of a lorry, so I thought the best thing to do was go to the prison and tell them what had happened.”

Her son was transferred temporarily to HMP Lincoln, a closed prison, because of his vulnerability and concerns he was a danger to himself, the inquest heard.

The following day Mr Dowdall harmed himself, cutting his wrist, and a suicide note was recovered, the inquest was told. He was put on half-hourly observation, which was reduced to hourly on January 11

An Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) plan had been opened – a procedure that takes place when a prisoner has been identified as at risk of harming themselves. But on January 17 the ACCT case was closed, with a post-closure interview arranged for January 24. This interview did not take place, the inquest heard.

On January 20 Mr Dowdall was transferred to Stafford Prison – a place he had previously served part of his sentence - but his ACCT document did not travel with him. Instead it was sent by recorded delivery and a copy was faxed to Stafford Prison – a Category C closed prison – but “left in an office”, the inquest heard.

Three days later, on January 23, Mr Dowdall called his mother five times. During that day he was also seen by the prison governor, Stuart Westwood, and the chaplain.

Mrs Williams told the inquest: “He didn’t know why he had been taken to Stafford, he always thought he was going to North Sea Camp.

“So did I, that’s what they told us. He was disorientated.

“He said ‘I’m going to do another four, five, six years. I haven’t got the strength to keep living.’”

Mrs Williams telephoned the prison on January 25 to report her concerns about her son, asking for certain officers by name, and the former governor, Peter Small. But she was told the officers were unavailable, and that Mr Small had left the prison, and she should put her concerns in writing.

Mr Dowdall was seen by healthcare staff on January 26, but the following morning, at 6.13am, was found hanging in his cell and pronounced dead at 6.36am, the court heard.

The inquest continues.

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