Death of pris­oner was ‘un­avoid­able’

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CIARAN SHANKS

THE death of a Dundee pris­oner who was found un­con­scious in his cell was un­avoid­able, a fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­quiry has con­cluded.

John Monteath, 24, was dis­cov­ered in his cell at HMP Perth.

He was trans­ferred to Perth Royal In­fir­mary and placed on a life sup­port ma­chine for sev­eral days be­fore he died on De­cem­ber 28 2015.

The in­quiry, held at Perth Sher­iff Court, heard that at around 6.10pm on Box­ing Day 2015, Mr Monteath asked to speak to any prison staff who knew him.

Two fe­male prison of­fi­cers at­tended his cell and saw him sit­ting read­ing a book and with a piece of pa­per he had writ­ten on. Mr Monteath was said to have been “smil­ing”, with staff hav­ing no con­cerns for him dur­ing the day. When of­fi­cer Natalie Camp­bell asked Mr Monteath why he wanted to see some­one, he replied: “Ach it’s noth­ing, don’t worry about it. Christ­mas in the jail is ***** .”

At around 8.20pm on the same date, an­other check was car­ried out on Mr Monteath. He was found un­con­scious on his bed.

Sher­iff Gil­lian Wade said: “The cen­tral is­sue of the in­quiry was whether the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of the de­ceased were such that the pos­si­bil­ity of him­self harm­ing or at­tempt­ing sui­cide could have been iden­ti­fied at an ear­lier stage and whether suf­fi­cient had been done to avoid this risk.

“I have con­cluded that the ev­i­dence nei­ther per­mits nor re­quires me to make a find­ing that there was any pre­cau­tion ... which could have been taken and which would have made any re­al­is­tic dif­fer­ence in this case.

“The only crit­i­cism, if that is the cor­rect term, which was voiced was the lack of avail­abil­ity of clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists within the cus­to­dial set­ting in 2015 but that ap­pears to have been reme­died in any event.

“While I have no for­mal rec­om­men­da­tions to make in this par­tic­u­lar in­quiry I trust that the next of kin will re­ceive some com­fort not only from the fond­ness with which many of the wit­nesses spoke about him, but also from the fact that the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Mr Monteath’s un­timely death have re­ceived proper con­sid­er­a­tion.”

If you feel sui­ci­dal, or need some­one to talk to, Sa­mar­i­tans can help. Con­tact their freep­hone num­ber 116123, or e-mail jo@sa­mar­i­tans.org.

John Monteath

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