22nd April 2013

Monday 22 April 2013 at 10am, for three weeks
Before Coroner Richard Hulett
Sitting at Buckinghamshire Coroner’s Court, 29 Windsor End, Beaconsfield, HP9 2JJ

Billy Spiller was aged 21 years old when he died on 5 November 2011. He was found hanging in his cell at HMYOI Aylesbury.

During his childhood Billy was variously diagnosed with learning difficulties, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He self harmed as a child and first used a ligature when he was 16 years old.

In January 2010, whilst in HMYOI Aylesbury, Billy was found hanging in his cell. He was found and cut down and sustained no serious injuries.  He was released on licence in October 2010 but recalled soon after and arrived back at HMYOI Aylesbury in February 2011.  Following his return Billy repeatedly threatened to self harm. He was referred to the mental health in-reach team and a psychiatrist. Billy was also subject to an ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody, and Teamwork – the system used for prisoners who are at risk of self harm).

In October 2011 Billy again threatened to self harm and on 3 November 2011 he threatened to make a noose. On 5 November Billy became distressed when he was unable to speak with his girlfriend. He punched the walls and asked to be constantly observed because he felt like killing himself. He was given a phone call to his girlfriend. At the end of the call both Billy and his girlfriend were in tears.

That afternoon Billy was found hanging in his cell at 2.17pm and, despite attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at 3.08pm.

Billy’s family hope that the inquest will address the following issues:

  1. The care given to Billy by the mental health staff at HMYOI Aylesbury
  2. The ACCT process, assessments of risk of suicide and recognition of self harming behaviour.
  3. How the prison dealt with Billy’s threats to hang himself.
  4. Information the prison had on Billy’s history of mental health difficulties and the medication he had been prescribed previously.
  5. Prison staff training on dealing with prisoners with complex mental health needs.

Dawn Spiller, Billy Spiller’s mother said:

“After having to wait for nearly a year and a half to find out what happened on that tragic day, we hope to get closer to the truth and find out exactly what went so terribly wrong.

“We would like answers as to why my son had to lose his life in a state-run establishment that should have been protecting his wellbeing.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“This is another troubling death in prison of a very vulnerable young man with a history of self harm and mental health needs that warrants wide ranging scrutiny.”

Billy Spiller was the second young man to die in HMYOI Aylesbury in 2011. Seven young men have died there since 2000.

INQUEST has been working with the family of Billy Spiller since his death in November 2011. The family is represented at the inquest by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Nancy Collins from Irwin Mitchell solicitors and barrister Stephen Cragg QC of Doughty Street chambers.

The inquest is scheduled to last for three weeks.


Notes to editor:

  1. INQUEST is calling for an independent review of the deaths of children and young people in prison following the publication of Fatally Flawed, an evidence based report examining recent deaths of children and young people and whether lessons are being learned from those deaths.