17:00 Friday 31 January 2014

HMP Sudbury cleared after prisoner is found hanged

Written byPETER RICHARDSON

Sudbury Prison Sudbury Prison

A OPEN jail near Uttoxeter has been cleared of any blame after a prisoner was found hanging from a tree while on day release.

Luke Scriven had been upset after visiting his wife’s home in Nottingham only to be told she wanted a divorce, while on release from Sudbury Open Prison.

However, his inquest, in Derby, heard that the 46-year-old had showed no signs of depression or suicidal plans before visiting his wife.

He became tearful at her comments before leaving the house, saying ‘he had nothing left, no point in living’.

His wife Phillipa told him ‘not to do anything silly’ but later received mobile phone calls from him on March 13, 2010.

Mr Scriven, 46, initially said he was going to take his own life and was heading for a cemetery, where his mother is buried.

She passed this information to police at 10.46am and officers set off for the area.

But at 11.10am, he called to say he was in Bestwood Park, where his friend Michael Mabbutt had hanged himself, the inquest was told.

In his final message, Mr Scriven told his wife he was ‘smoking his last cigarette and was going to do it’.

Officers were then sent to the 670-acre park and the police helicopter was scrambled.

At 11.52am, police community support officer Richard Kennedy was approached by a man who directed him to the tree where Mr Scriven was hanging.

As well as contacting his wife, Mr Scriven phoned his brother Christopher on the morning he died. He told him: “I have got nowhere to go. I am sick of jail.”

Referring to the police action, deputy Derby coroner Louise Pinder said: “The response to the calls was prompt, appropriate and focused.”

She also took evidence from a prison officer and studied a doctor’s independent review on Mr Scriven. Both indicated he had not roused concerns about suicide.

The coroner said: “He was entirely appropriate for day release based on the information available at the time.” The doctor’s review concluded that his medical care in the prison was as good as he could have got outside.

It went on: “He displayed health seeking behaviour which is not consistent with suicidal intent.”

Sudbury prison officer Mark McAvoy told the inquest that Mr Scriven had a trusted job in the officers’ mess. He had been on day release before as part of moves to get him used to life outside again.

Mr McAvoy was ‘personal officer’ to 20 inmates and Mr Scriven was among them. That made him the first point of contact for any problems.

He described him as quiet and told the coroner: “Luke would tell me what he wanted to tell me.”

The coroner asked whether he seemed low or became depressed. Mr McAvoy replied: “He never mentioned it.

He never looked depressed to me.” He said staff were shocked to hear of the death.

Home Office pathologist Dr Guy Rutty gave hanging as the cause of death.

Tests showed no drugs or alcohol in Mr Scriven’s body.

At the end of a two-day hearing, the coroner recorded he ‘took his own life’.

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