23 February 1998

Southwark Coroners Court 10am

The inquest will take place on Monday 23 February into the death of 23 year old Jason Sebastian, a black man with a long history of mental illness who had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Police arrested Jason Sebastian on 29 August on a charge of indecent assault. Such was their concern about his mental health that they contacted his psychiatrist who stated that if remanded to Belmarsh he should be located in the Health Care Centre and seen by a forensic psychiatrist. The police also filled out a police exceptional risk form warning that he had threatened to self-harm.

He was remanded to Belmarsh prison on 30 August 1997 and seen on reception by a prison medical officer who noted his history of chronic schizophrenia and would have had the information from the police about his threats to self-harm. He had been in Belmarsh the previous year and had been assessed as being a suicide risk. He was located on the Health Care Centre for observation where on the 10 September he was observed to be psychotic and suffering from hallucinations.

On the 15 September Jason was placed on report for verbally abusing a female member of the health care staff. On 16th September he was assessed by a doctor as being fit for cellular confinement and was given four days in the segregation block. On 19th September he was found hanging from the bars of his cell window in the segregation unit.

INQUEST have arranged for Jason’s mother to be represented at the inquest by barrister Danny Friedman who is working without the benefit of resources, unlike the prison service who are represented out of public funds and the doctor whose representation is paid for the Medical Defence Union.

INQUEST is concerned about the decision to place a mentally ill man with a history of self-harm in the segregation unit. The medical treatment and care of prisoners in Belmarsh has been criticised at inquests into previous deaths in Belmarsh by INQUEST, the Southwark coroner and local MP John Austin, NB: Previous deaths in Belmarsh Health Care Centre are Kenneth Severin (21.11.95), Matthew Holmes (26.3.97) and Ricky Overy (6.7.97)