22 October 2019

Before HM Senior Coroner for Milton Keynes Tom Osborne
H.M. Coroner’s Court, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ
Starts 10am 23 October 2019, expected to last 10 days
Darren Williams, 39, was remanded to HMP Woodhill in April 2018. On 4 January 2019 at 3.50pm he was found suspended from a ligature in his cell and could not be revived. The inquest into his self-inflicted death opens tomorrow at Milton Keynes coroners court.
Darren’s family described him as kind and generous with a heart of gold. He was very family orientated. He had a history of anxiety, depression, self-harm and substance misuse. In May 2018 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. However his sentence was increased following a successful appeal by the Crown Prosecution Service. Darren’s family say this hit him hard and he struggled to cope.
He was subject to four separate periods of monitoring under suicide prevention procedures (known as ACCT) between 28 July and 19 December following serious acts of self-harm including ligaturing, an overdose of prescribed medication and further traumatic self injury. Darren stated that he was under threat from other prisoners because of debts he owed.
Darren was the first of four men to die in the prison in 2019. The most recent inspection of HMP Woodhill found the prison is ‘still not safe enough’.
The inquest will consider:

  • Suicide and self-harm prevention measures (ACCT)
  • The prison’s response to allegations of bullying and debts
  • The availability of psychoactive substances
  • The actions of the mental health team and healthcare
  • Events of the 4 January 2019, when he was found hanging



For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact the INQUEST communications team on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]; [email protected]

Darren's family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton from Deighton Pierce Glynn and Raj Desai of Matrix Chambers.

For information and advice on how to safely report on self-inflicted deaths, please look at the Samaritans Media Guidelines for reporting suicide and self-harm.

A total of 18 self-inflicted deaths took place in HMP Woodhill between January 2013 and December 2016 when concerns were first raised at the inquest into the death of Kevin Scarlett (March 2014).
Over that period HMP Woodhill had the highest number of self-inflicted deaths of any prison in England and Wales.  
Families bereaved by this series of self-inflicted deaths in HMP Woodhill were granted a judicial review aiming to address the high number of self-inflicted deaths in Woodhill. In May 2017 the High Court rejected this claim, however since the hearing highly critical inquests have found:

  • The failure by HMP Woodhill to learn from previous suicides caused the death by neglect of Daniel Dunkley (May 2017)
  • HMP Woodhill authorities failed to take all reasonable precautions to prevent the death of Tom Morris (July 2017)

Following the public pressure brought by the families involved in these cases, an independent review by Stephen Shaw was commissioned in May 2017 to examine the circumstances of these deaths. Following this, it was announced that Woodhill would convert from a local prison to a category B training establishment. In 2017 there were no self-inflicted deaths at the prison.
In 2018 there were four deaths in Woodhill prison, a homicide, a drugs related death, a non self-inflicted death and a self-inflicted death.
The recent inspection of HMP Woodhill found the prison has ‘deteriorated significantly’ since the previous inspection in 2015 and is ‘still not safe enough’. See INQUEST response (June 2018).