Death of prisoner was ‘unavoidable’
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 email@example.com.