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Jury returned critical findings in the inquest into the death of Mark Groombridge
17 April 2015
Mark Groombridge died from multiple head injuries by jumping headfirst from his bed in his cell at Dovegate Prison on 27 December 2013.
The jury concluded that on the balance of probabilities it was felt that the execution of the recall process contributed to his death. Mark had been released from prison on licence in January 2013 but his wife, Jackie became concerned about his mental health and signs of paranoia and informed the probation service about this. Mark took a life threatening overdose and after remaining in hospital for several days in a coma, was admitted as a voluntary patient to Brockton Acute Admission Ward in St George’s Hospital in Stafford.
Despite Mark's psychiatric needs, and the clear instruction from his consultant that he should be detained under the Mental Health Act if he asked to leave, the local Probation office dispatched recall papers, claiming that this was precautionary only, but setting in motion a process that they took no steps to halt. Police attended Brocton Ward. Junior staff covering duties that Saturday failed to seek advice or a medical assessment of Mark and allowed him to be taken away
The jury further commented that in being allowed to be moved from St George's Hospital, Stafford, to Dovegate Prison, Mark was placed in an environment that was less conducive to his wellbeing, and additionally, less able to undertake psychiatric assessment and continue the treatments that had been in place for him at St George's Hospital.
Ruth Bundey, the family solicitor said:
“From the moment Jackie realised Mark was unwell, she told the relevant authorities, and did all she could to ensure Mark got help. Whilst the NHS trust have apologised, from the beginning, for their failings when armed police attended their psychiatric unit, this is in stark contrast to the local probation service who have provided contradictory accounts in self justification”
Jackie Groombridge, Mark’s wife said:
“ I believe the last straw was the failure of the 'constant supervision' carried out at Dovegate prison by an untrained inexperienced security officer, separated from Mark by a locked door, viewing him through a hatch, unable to prevent his final act.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“It is a scandal that someone like Mark who was clearly vulnerable with serious mental health problems was put in prison in the first place. If someone with physical health problems was dragged from the hospital and taken to prison half way through his treatment there, there would have been a public outcry. Why should the situation be different for someone who was having a severe mental health crisis? The findings of this inquest should send a strong message to the authorities that prisons are no place for people with mental health problems”
INQUEST has been working with the family Mark Groombridge since July 2014. The family is represented by INQUEST lawyers Group member Ruth Bundey from Harrison Bundey Solicitors.
Notes to editors:
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‘My congratulations to all involved in this 30 year battle for disclosure [of the Cass report on the death of Blair Peach] … it was this awful state of affairs which led those of us who founded INQUEST to set it up. But it is mind-boggling to think that we were still arguing over this report 30 years later.’
– Terry Munyard, barrister at Garden Court Chambers and founding member of INQUEST