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Hanged inmate ‘faced death’ in Afghanistan

‘Staff shortage meant he did not get care he needed’

26 January, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Convicted rapist Amir Faizi was concerned about the persecution he might face in Afghanistan because of his offence

A MENTAL health nurse who treated a man found hanged at Pentonville Prison said that “maybe” his death could have been avoided, a jury inquest has heard.

Convicted rapist Amir Faizi had expressed concerns about being deported back to Afghanistan, fearing how he would be treated for being homosexual and the persecution that he could face for his offence.

St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard how the 31-year-old, who had previously told doctors he tried to hang and suffocate himself, was found hanged by a bedsheet last April and could not be resuscitated.

He was serving an indeterminate jail sentence, with a minimum of two years, imposed in 2007 for raping a man.

He had been transferred from a Norwich prison to the vulnerable prisoner unit at the Caledonian Road jail, awaiting a hearing about his deportation as he did not have right-to-remain status.

Two days before his death, a hearing to appeal the Home Office decision not to grant him asylum was due to be held, but was adjourned.

The inquest heard on Monday how Mr Faizi, an Afghan national who had come to the UK in a lorry in 2003, had been prescribed several drugs, including treatment for depression. He was under a care plan to help identify prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm. This would impact how often he was observed and reviewed by nurses and staff at the prison.

Pentonville Prison

Mental health nurse Nontuthoko Dube, em­ploy­ed through an agency by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, responsible for psychiatric care at the prison, had treated Mr Faizi from February 2017.

She said for three weeks between February and March last year, she was the only mental health nurse, as her two other colleagues were on leave, and therefore she took on a much heavier workload.

Mr Faizi went several weeks without being seen by Ms Dube. She said: “It might have been when my colleagues were not there that he was not seen.”

She claimed “no one listened” to her concerns. Nurses who were not mental health-trained were seeing prisoners.

Ms Dube said Mr Faizi said he did not want to be seen by her. “He said he did not like dealing with black people,” she told the inquest. “I tried to speak to him and expressed [that] I cannot let him not be seen as I’m the only nurse left.”

She did assess him that day, however. He said he had “fluctuating ideas of suicide” and that his main worry was his upcoming immigration case. She added that in Afghanistan people of his sexuality were “going to face death”.

Ms Dube told the court: “There were problems between me and Mr Faizi. He did not like me and due to the shortage of staff I think he wasn’t provided with what he needed. Before I left, Mr Faizi should have been allocated to a male mental health nurse and maybe he would engage more with him.”

Speaking of his death, she said: “Maybe this could have been avoided, but I do not know how.”

The inquest is due to end today (Friday). It was expected to hear evidence from prison officers and staff at Care UK, which runs daycare health services at the prison.

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