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‘Drug withdrawal’ inmate found hanged

Nurse ‘surprised’ at decision to move prisoner from wing two days earlier: ‘They can self-harm’

08 December, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Mark Doyle had entered Pentonville Prison for the attempted murder of his partner

A NURSE who helped care for a Pentonville Prison inmate suspected of hanging himself told an inquest she was “surprised” he was moved from a substance misuse wing to a general wing two days before his death as he was suffering from drug withdrawal and in pain.

Mark Doyle, 44, who was found hanged in his cell in March, was taken to University College Hospital, where he died on March 29.

Just days earlier he had requested to be taken off methadone, a synthetic opiate prescribed by doctors as a substitute for heroin.

After entering the prison for the attempted murder of his partner, Mr Doyle was placed in F wing, the prison’s substance misuse wing, as he was reliant on methadone.

Felicity Onyeji, a night-shift nurse employed by private healthcare giant Care UK, which provides care at the Caledonian Road prison, told an inquest into Mr Doyle’s death on Wednesday that he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Ms Onyeji said: “If they are withdrawing we don’t move them. This is my personal view. Because we need to monitor them. If they are severely withdrawing we will be notified by the F wing officer and told much quicker than if they are on another wing.”

She told the 10-person jury at St Pancras Coroner’s Court: “It [withdrawing] can affect their mood. They won’t be comfortable and they might self-harm if they can’t cope.”

Ms Onyeji, who was on the night shift in F wing on the night of March 19, said: “He said he wanted to restart methadone because I can only bring him supportives. He was in pain.” The strongest “supportive” drugs she could give were over-the-counter pain­killers such as Ibuprofen.

She said she had put him on a “doctor’s list” for March 20 so Mr Doyle could make a request to the F wing doctor to restart taking methadone. But it was revealed at the inquest that later that day he was moved to G wing, where general prisoners are housed.

When asked by coroner Heather Williams QC how she felt after learning Mr Doyle was moved, Ms Onyeji replied: “It does surprise me. I mentioned he was withdrawing and wanted to start methadone.”

The inquest heard how Mr Doyle’s sister, Christina Aslam, had called one of the prison’s safer custody team a day after her brother had arrived at Pentonville to warn that he was at risk of committing suicide.

“I explained to her that he had lost his dad and son. I explained he had been held under section 2 of the Mental Health Act. I did tell her that my main concern was that he might kill himself,” said Ms Aslam. The inquest is scheduled to continue until Tuesday.

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