24 April 2024

Before HM Assistant Coroner Charlotte Keighley
Cheshire Coroner’s Court,
St James Business Centre, Warrington
Scheduled 29 April - 9 May

Christine McDonald died a self-inflicted death at HMP Styal in Cheshire in March 2019, just days after a traumatic arrest which related to challenges with addiction. An inquest will now examine the circumstances. 

Christine’s death is one of 26 at the prison since 2007, eleven of which were self-inflicted. This represents more deaths than in any other women’s prison in England and Wales. Previous deaths in Styal gave rise to a landmark review on women’s prisons, The Corston Report 2007. Many of the recommendations have not been enacted and deaths continue.

Christine was 55 years old at the time of her death and had four children. She was kind, loving, and had a good sense of humour. She was someone who always put others before herself. She was loved and is missed immensely by her family.

Christine struggled with opiate addiction and had convictions for shoplifting related to her addiction.

On 1 March 2019, Christine was arrested, alongside her daughter Kristy, for failing to attend court on 27 February 2019. The circumstances of this arrest had a significant impact on Christine. During the arrest her daughter Kristy fell from the third floor suffering serious injuries. Christine witnessed her daughter sustain serious injuries before she was arrested by police officers.

That day Christine was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment for two offences of shoplifting small value items of shampoo, bubble bath, hair dye and cheese and one offence of failure to comply with a community requirement of a suspended sentence.

Upon arrival at the prison, her behaviour was described as being anxious, suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms and being concerned for her daughter who had sustained serious injuries from the fall.

Christine continued to suffer from withdrawal symptoms, had low mood and continued expressing concern for her daughter the following day on 2 March. Later that day, Christine was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester following concerns raised during a healthcare assessment in the prison. She was subsequently returned to HMP Styal.

That evening two prison officers found Christine hanging in her cell. She was found to have a pulse and was taken back to Wythenshawe hospital. Her family rushed to be by her side. On 3 March 2019 she was pronounced dead.  

The inquest into her death will seek to explore the following issues:

  • An overview of Christine’s physical and mental health from her initial arrival at the prison until the moment she was found on 2 March 2019. 
  • Care received while in prison, including assessment and management of risks to herself and observations conducted prior and after being referred to the hospital’s Emergency Department. 
  • Events of 1 March 2019 with a focus on the circumstances of her arrest and the impact this had on her state of mind.

Cheri McDonald, her daughter said: “I am a nurse in the NHS and appreciate the immense workload across all public sector services, however I have serious concerns about the level of care my mum received.

This is both as a patient when physically unwell withdrawing and the steps the prison took to look after her given the massive stressing event of watching her daughter, my sister, sustain serious injuries. I would ask that there is a full investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the care and treatment received prior to and including events up to her death.”



For further information contact INQUEST communications team on [email protected] or 020 7263 1111 

Photos of Christine for media use: photo 1, photo 2, photo 3

Christine’s family are represented by Alison Gerry of Doughty Street Chambers and Jane Ryan, Catherine Shannon and Basanti Mardemootoo of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.