Inquest into death of transgender Doncaster prisoner moves into second day

An inquest into the death of a transgender inmate at Doncaster Prison is set to resume today.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 8:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 8:35 am
Jenny Swift

Jenny Swift, aged 49, who was on remand over a fatal stabbing, was found dead in her cell just days after she came out of a suicide pact with three other transgender inmates, the inquest heard yesterday.

She was found hanging in a cell at HMP Doncaster - a jail for men - in December last year.

Ms Swift, a former soldier who served in Iraq and who used to be known as Jonathan, had been taking hormone replacement treatment drugs bought online before she arrived at HMP Doncaster in November - five weeks before she killed herself.

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She was remanded in custody over the death of 26-year-old Eric Flanagan at a property in Surrey Street, Balby, in November and was due to be charged with murder.

Fellow inmates told the inquest that Ms Swift struggled without the medication during her time behind bars and wanted to be moved to a female prison. She feared she was 'starting to to turn back into a man'.

One inmate said 'one or two' prison guards used to call her 'fella'.

Transgender prisoner, Paris Clarke, told the inquest how four transgender prisoners at the jail had entered into a pact to kill themselves, but she and Ms Swift changed their minds.

She said her friend seemed happy the evening before she was found dead.

The prisoner said: "Some of us were being bullied by members of staff. And no-one was listening. A couple of us made a pact of suicide."

She agreed with Barney Branston, representing Serco - the firm which operates the prison - that the pair pulled out of the pact together because it 'was not a brilliant idea, it solves nothing, does nothing'.

"I had a chat with her and she pulled out with me," she told the inquest.

Ms Clarke said her friend liked to play loud music and was dancing on the evening before she was found dead.

She said she had no idea that Ms Swift intended to kill herself.

She said: "No clue at all. We were very close. I never got any inkling or anything that she was going to take her own life."

Ms Clarke was asked about her friend's mood after she was told she would be facing a murder charge instead of the attempted murder she was initially remanded into custody for.

"She was really remorseful," she said.

Ms Clarke said her friend said: "What have I done, I can't believe I've done this."

But the prisoner, who is now in a jail for women, said Ms Swift was angry with herself but did not seem to think that 'life was not worth living'.

She agreed that her friend was planning life after her sentence and wanted a husband.

Ms Clarke said Ms Swift was 'a funny person - very energetic, always smiling and joking'.

"She helped me be who I wanted to be," she told the court.

Ms Clarke said her friend talked about wanting a move to a female prison and was pleased that her hormone replacement treatment was due to begin again on January 3.

She said she saw her friend just before lock-up on the night she died.

Ms Clarke said: "She mentioned her kid. She mentioned about living life to the full. She gave everyone a cuddle that night, like she did most nights. She was just happy and said she'd see us all in the morning."

The inquest is due to conclude later this week.