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Inquest into the death of Lee Rushton, 25 years old, who died at HMP Walton, began on Monday 9 May 2016
Monday 9 May at 10.00am
Liverpool Coroner’s Court, Boundary Street, Liverpool, L5 2QD
Before Senior Coroner Andre Rebello
Expected to last 2 weeks before a jury
On 28 January 2015 Lee Rushton was found hanging at HMP Walton and died shortly after.
Lee was in HMP Liverpool on remand and had been there for just 6 days before he died. This was his first time in prison and he was due for a video link court hearing on the day of his death. He died before the hearing happened.
Lee was placed on a suicide and self harm management programme and referred to the mental health team but was not allowed to make any phone calls on his first night in the prison.
On 23 January, at his suicide and self harm prevention assessment, his mental health problems and distress at not being able to contact his parents were identified as notable issues. He said he might harm himself. At another review, it was noted that these concerns had been addressed but nothing substantive had been done.
On the evening of 23 January, Lee was attacked by another prisoner. He received injuries to his face. He was moved to I Wing, a standard prison wing, the next day.
In the afternoon following his move, he was noted as being confused, unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. He denied taking an illicit substance. He again asked to contact his mother and son but was told he would have to wait until the next day.
On 25 January, Lee had a mental health triage assessment. He said he heard voices but had no thoughts of suicide or self harm. It was noted that he would be discussed at a mental health team meeting. He had no further contact with the mental health team.
Again, Lee asked to make a phone call but was told he could not for public protection reasons. Nurse noted that he seemed to have taken an illicit substance.
Late evening on 27 January, Lee’s cellmate told the night officer he was concerned about Lee who was aggressive, hearing voices and suicidal. The night manager moved his cellmate, but did not assess Lee’s risk. He did note in Lee’s ACCT record that Lee had pressed his cell bell throughout the night to ask for tobacco. He continued to ask for this the next morning and was noted as being aggressive when his behaviour was challenged.
He was spoken to by staff from the public protection unit and a drug support worker. He continued to be aggressive and it was noted that he appeared to be talking to himself.
There will be expert evidence heard by the Court in relation to the rehabilitation treatment Lee received. There are some criticisms made in relation to the adequacy of the assessments made in relation to the rehab treatment.
On Wednesday 28 January at 1.42pm, an officer went to collect Lee for his video link court hearing. Lee was found hanging in his cell and after efforts to resuscitate him, Lee was pronounced dead at 2.17pm.
Lee’s family are deeply troubled by his death as he had only been in prison for 6 days and was likely to have been released on the day of his death. The inquest is expected to focus on the adequacy of Lee’s mental healthcare at HMP Walton.
INQUEST has been working with the family of Lee Rushton since July 2015. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Chris Topping and Leanne Dunne from Broudie Jackson Canter Solicitors and Ifeanyi Odogwu from Garden Court Chambers.
‘I’ve been a long-time supporter of the crucial work that INQUEST does. Until there is legislation to change the way inquests are conducted and the provision of legal and psychological support to the bereaved of those who died in custody, INQUEST will continue to be a vital source of support for families.’
– Linton Kwesi Johnson