Neglect played a part in suicide

THE family of a prisoner who hanged himself is considering taking legal action after an inquest jury decided neglect had played a part in his suicide.

They want to know if 26-year-old Shaun Flanagan's life could have been saved if officers at the privately-run HMP Doncaster had acted sooner when he handed them a suicide note.

A vital four minutes was lost while officer Russell Calladine, who has since been sacked, waited for assistance before he went into Mr Flanagan's cell at Marshgate.

Mr Flanagan, of South Street, Highfields, was on segregation for assaulting another officer.

After three days of evidence at Doncaster Coroner's Court, the jury returned a unanimous verdict that "the deceased took his own life which was contributed to by neglect."

Mr Flanagan's father, Roy Maxfield, of Woodlands, said the verdict was what they had expected.

"We will have to take legal advice before we decide if we take further action against the prison, but I think we will do," he said.

The inquest was told Mr Flanagan was remanded to HMP Doncaster on June 30 2006 but nursing staff decided he did not need to be put on suicide watch because he did not express any intention of harming himself.

Mr Flanagan was used to the prison environment because he had been incarcerated on six previous occasions. He had been prescribed medication for depression in the past.

Ruth Houston, an investigator for the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, said Mr Flanagan should have been referred for a mental health assessment at reception because of his previous history of self-harm and depression.

Her investigation also revealed a log keeping a record of the number of times he was checked while on the detoxification wing had been lost by the prison.

CCTV footage from Mr Flanagan's wing showed Mr Calladine saw him hanging and called for assistance at 9.56pm but did not enter the cell. Three minutes later he made another call and a minute after that other staff arrived to unlock the cell and cut him down.

Mr Calladine "should have gone straight into the cell, according to the prison director's order, in a matter of life and death," said Mrs Houston.

A spokesman for HMP Doncaster said: "Shaun's Flanagan's death was tragic and we have passed our condolences to his family and friends."

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