Our inquest team recently represented the family of Dylan Woodhead in the Article 2 inquest into his death. The inquest was heard by Senior Coroner Timothy Brennand, assisted by a jury, over the course of nine days.
Dylan Woodhead was a sociable, well-loved family man and a devoted father to his newly born daughter. Prior to his imprisonment, Dylan struggled with mental health related issues, which were exacerbated during his time at HMP Hindley and HMP Forest Bank.
On the night of 8th January 2021, the Operational Support Group Officer was due to undertake a mandated welfare check on the prisoners in addition to a ‘pegging check’ (a recorded patrol check of landings by night guard officers). These checks are implemented to ensure prisoners are accounted for and safe within their cells. Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic the checks additionally offered an opportunity for officers to check the mental welfare of inmates and speak to prisoners regarding any issues they may have had. At this time prisoners were out of their cells for a maximum of one hour per day, leading to considerable isolation and lack of social interaction.
The Operational Support Group Officer intentionally neglected to perform the required welfare check and failed to conduct the mandated pegging checks overnight. When asked about the omission of these checks, the OSG attributed their failings as the result of ‘tiredness’. They then inaccurately documented that both checks had been carried out, which was entirely false.
At 8:07 hours on the 8th January 2021 Dylan Woodhead was found deceased having ligatured in their cell. Despite the resuscitation attempts Dylan was sadly pronounced dead.
The jury’s findings in relation to the circumstances of Dylan’s death can be summarised as follows;
The deceased was found on the 8th January 2021 in cell E231 at HMP Hindley at 08:07 hours. It was not possible to determine the exact time of death, however the last confirmed interaction with the deceased was timed at 19:36 hours on the 7th January 2021. Prison Officers entered the cell at 08:07 hours, CPR was attempted by one of the prison officers. An ambulance called, paramedics arrived and the death was pronounced at 08:23 hours.
The deceased was lawfully detained at HMP Forest Bank on the 15th September 2020. A custodial sentence was imposed on the deceased on 4th December 2020 with a duration of 30 months. The deceased was transferred to HMP Hindley, arriving on 29th December 2020.
Upon arrival at HMP Hindley the deceased was screened at reception. Due to the COVID-19 related restrictions, a second screening which would normally have been carried out 72 hours later was carried out at the same time as the first screening.
No ACCT (assessment, care in custody and teamwork) was assessed as necessary on admission to HMP Hindley, despite the deceased’s medical background, which included a history of attempted suicide and self-harm. Throughout the deceased’s time within the custodial system, no ACCT was ever deemed necessary.
On the morning of 8th January 2021, the Operational Support Group Officer (OSG) deliberately did not undertake the mandated welfare check, nor did they carry out ‘pegging’ checks overnight. The OSG further completed documentation that the welfare and pegging checks had been done. These failings were accepted by the Ministry of Justice.
On the morning of 8th January 2021 at 08:07 hours Dylan was found having ligatured.
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