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Inquest into the death of Dean Saunders in HMP Chelmsford begins on Monday 9 January
Coroner's Court, Seax House, Victoria Road South, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1LX
10.00am before HM Senior Coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray (listed for two weeks)
Dean Saunders, a 25 year old father, died on 4 January 2016 at HMP Chelmsford after electrocuting himself. This was his first time in prison.
Days before his imprisonment he showed signs of acute mental ill health. He was taken from his home by the police after an incident during which Dean tried to harm himself. At the police station, a decision was made to charge him with an offence rather than detain him under the Mental Health Act and he was subsequently transferred to HMP & YOI Chelmsford.
It is anticipated that the inquest into Dean’s death will explore the following issues:
• Dean’s assessment by mental health professionals at the police station and at court.
• The decision to remand Dean to prison.
• The care that Dean received at HMP Chelmsford, including decisions in relation to his level of observations and the management of the risk he posed to himself.
• The process of arranging Dean’s transfer to a psychiatric hospital from prison.
• The prison’s response to contact from Dean’s family.
Dean’s family said: “Dean was a kind and loving man. We hope that the inquest will properly explore what went wrong with his care and ensure that there are changes so that this doesn’t happen to another family. We want justice for Dean. He deserved so much better.”
Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST, said: “What happened to the systems designed to divert vulnerable people from custody and how did someone like Dean Saunders end up in prison in the first place? This inquest has to provide rigorous scrutiny of the very serious issues in this case and provide the family with answers which they so desperately deserve.”
INQUEST has been working with the family of Dean Saunders since January 2016. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Charlotte Haworth Hird from Bindmans solicitors and Sean Horstead from Garden Court Chambers.
Notes to editors:
For further information, please contact: Selen Cavcav (email@example.com) or Laura Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 0207 263 1111.
INQUEST provides specialist advice on deaths in custody or detention or involving state failures in England and Wales. This includes a death in prison, in police custody or following police contact, in immigration detention or psychiatric care. INQUEST's policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths.
Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.
‘At the time of the tragedy, I had no idea of what to do or who to turn to. By luck, I found yourselves and contacted you, the rest as we say is history. On behalf of [my brother's] family, friends and myself I would just like to thank you so much for your professional support and advice during that difficult period and without that help, I do not think we would be where we are today.’
– Brother of a man who died in police custody