11 August 2023

Before Assistant Coroner Ian Arrow 
West London Coroner’s Court,  
25 Bagleys Lane, London, SW6 2QA  
Opens 14 August - scheduled to last 10 days 

Luke Clarke was 38 years old when he was found ligatured in his cell at HMP Wormwood Scrubs on 7 April 2020. Luke had a long history of mental ill health, including with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.  

Now an inquest will look at the circumstances of his death and the care he received in prison and the community. 

Luke’s death is one of 12 apparently self-inflicted deaths at the prison in the past five years. 

Luke was born in St Neot’s, Cambridgeshire, but later moved to London as a teenager with his mother and siblings. A protective older brother, his family describe him as a “loving, kind, funny and caring” person. Luke previously ran a window cleaning business with his brother around West London. 

Luke experienced sexual abuse as a teenager. Subsequently his mental health deteriorated, and he began to rely on drugs and alcohol. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2004 and was sectioned several times.  

Luke was detained by police on 5 April 2020 and arrested for breaching his license. He was taken to hospital, apparently due to concerns about his mental health.  

On 6 April, Luke was taken from hospital directly to HMP Wormwood Scrubs by police officers.  

At the prison, Luke was placed on the wing which was being used to isolate prisoners in relation to COVID-19. It is thought that he may have been the first prisoner to enter the prison following the Covid-19 lockdown with suspected Covid-19. He was found having ligatured in his cell the following day. 

It is expected that the inquest will now consider the adequacy of management of risks to Luke following his arrest on 5 April 2020. 

The family hope the inquest will address their concerns about the care that Luke received prior to his death and whether his death could have been prevented.  



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

The family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose Solicitors and Paul Clark of Garden Court Chambers; and were previously represented by Tom Stoate of Doughty Street Chambers. They are supported by INQUEST Caseworker Caroline Finney. 

Other Interested Persons represented at the inquest are HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Practice Plus Group; Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust; West London NHS Trust; The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis; and London North West University NHS Trust. 

Journalists should refer to the Samaritans Media Guidelinesfor reporting suicide and self-harm and guidance for reporting on inquests. 

Since 2013, there have been 18 self-inflicted deaths at HMP Wormwood Scrubs, 12 of which took place since 2018. The most recent death was in July 2023. 

Relevant cases: 

  • Winston Augustine, 43, died on 30 August 2018 at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. He had been transferred to the segregation unit only 48 hours before he was found ligatured in his cell. An inquest found that at the time of his death. Winston was in a state of severe pain and starvation. Media release. 
  • Ketheeswaren ‘Kumar’ Kunarathnam, a 45 year old Sri Lankan immigration detainee, died on 23 February 2018 at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. An inquest found that Kumar died by suicide, and identified failings from all organisations involved in his care and detention. Media release.