11 March 2024

Before Coroner Laura Bradford
East Sussex Coroner’s Court
Muriel Matters House, Hastings, TN34 3UY
Opens 12 March 2024 - scheduled to last 6 days

Finlay Finlayson, known to his family and friends as Vinney, was only 54 years old when he died at HMP Lewes on 25 January 2019. Now an inquest will look at the circumstances of his death and the care he received at the prison.

At the time of Vinney’s death, HM Inspectorate of Prisons inspected (HMIP) HMP Lewes, stating “the findings of this inspection were deeply troubling and indicative of systemic failure within the prison service.” The last day of their inspection in 2019 was the same day Vinney died.

Vinney’s family describe him as a caring and genuine person. They say he had three main joys in his life, his dog Caesar who he rescued, his Harley Davidson with Cesar’s sidecar, and most importantly, his family. 

Vinney had been diagnosed with cancer which was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He fought hard. On being remanded at Lewes prison, on 27 December 2018, Vinney’s family thought he was cancer free. 

Vinney struggled with his mental health. His family describe him as blunt yet charismatic and say this did not always sit well with healthcare staff. They are concerned that Vinney’s physical pain and symptoms were often ignored due to his mental ill health.

Vinney’s physical health deteriorated during January. He told his family that he had put in applications to be seen by healthcare but was only seen on 21 January when he was thought to be suffering from constipation. HMIP said in their report that in 2019 there were 143 non-actioned applications from prisoners to see healthcare dating back to the beginning of December 2018.

On 25 January Vinney collapsed in his cell. It took healthcare over 27 minutes to answer a radio message to attend to Vinney and it was another 45 minutes before an ambulance was called. Half an hour later Vinney went into cardiac arrest and died. The medical cause of death has been given as Pulmonary Thromboemboli due to Deep Vein Thrombosis. 

The family hope the inquest will address their concerns about the care that Vinney received prior to his death and whether his death could have been prevented. Vinney told his family that he thought he was going to die in prison. His sister made a promise to Vinney that she would get his story heard. She hopes the inquest will help her fulfill this promise. 


For further information, please contact Leila Hagmann on [email protected].

The family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton and Rachel Tribble of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Nick Armstrong KC of Matrix Chambers. They are supported by INQUEST Senior Caseworker Selen Cavcav.

Other Interested Persons represented at the inquest are HMP Lewes, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and MedCo Secure Healthcare Services Ltd.