Jail blocks in­mate from see­ing dy­ing mother

Salford Advertiser - - NEWS - NEAL KEEL­ING

AFAMILY has slammed of­fi­cials at Strange­ways after a pris­oner had to say his good­byes to his dy­ing mother over the phone.

Rel­a­tives of Bar­bara Edge gath­ered at her bed­side when doc­tors told them she had only hours to live.

A se­nior doc­tor and her fam­ily tele­phoned the jail re­quest­ing her son, Carl Bir­chall, be al­lowed to visit her at Sal­ford Royal.

Mr Bir­chall, 30, is cur­rently be­ing held on re­mand at the Manch­ester prison after be­ing charged with common as­sault and ac­tual bod­ily harm.

But Mr Bir­chall was not freed un­der guard and had to say his fi­nal goodbye on the phone. Prison bosses say they were as­sess­ing the re­quest when his mother passed away. Mrs Edge’s fam­ily also fear he will not be al­lowed to at­tend his mother’s fu­neral ei­ther.

Carl’s sis­ter, Stacey Bir­chall, 24, of Lower Ker­sal, said: “My mum had only been in hos­pi­tal two days when she started to de­te­ri­o­rate quickly. She had em­phy­sema and was ad­mit­ted on a gen­eral ward but the next day was put in in­ten­sive care.

“My mum had five chil­dren and all of us were there ex­cept Carl.

“A se­nior doc­tor spoke to a prison chap­lain and strongly ad­vised them to get Carl to the hos­pi­tal so he could say his good­byes to his mum.

“I also spoke to a chap­lain as did other mem­bers of my fam­ily. We asked to speak to the prison gov­er­nor but were re­fused.

“Carl was the one who was clos­est to his mother.

“In the end he had to speak to her on a mo­bile phone which was on a loud speaker, which we placed next to my mum.

“It was undig­ni­fied. Carl is not a Cat­e­gory A pris­oner. He has been on re­mand for two weeks and is in­no­cent un­til proved guilty of the as­sault. It was dis­gust­ing the way our fam­ily was treated.”

Mrs Edge, 56, died last Wed­nes­day, 24 hours after the re­quest was made to the prison. Stacey added: “We first con­tacted the prison the day be­fore when her con­di­tion be­gan to worsen.

“We have spo­ken to our solic­i­tor about the sit­u­a­tion and he has warned us there might only be a 50/50 chance that Carl will be al­lowed to at­tend the fu­neral.”

The Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice con­firmed Mr Bir­chall had been held on re­mand after com­mit­ting the al­leged of­fence.

Frances Crook, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Howard League for Pe­nal Re­form, said: “The prison sys­tem should not be down­right cruel to the in­no­cent fam­i­lies of peo­ple held in prison. Is this prison so se­ri­ously un­der­staffed that it can­not get a son to his dy­ing mother?”

It is un­der­stood the prison was in the process of deal­ing with the re­quest and mak­ing a risk as­sess­ment when Mrs Edge died.

A Prison Ser­vice spokesman said: “We do not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual pris­on­ers.

“Pris­on­ers can ap­ply for es­corted vis­its to at­tend the fu­neral of a close rel­a­tive, but it will al­ways be sub­ject to a strict as­sess­ment where pub­lic pro­tec­tion is the key.”

Carl, right, with brother Dale and mum Bar­bara

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.