13 January 1997

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, who organised the legal representation for the family and attended throughout the inquest said: “This verdict shows that the jury were not satisfied with the official version of events espoused by prison officers that this death was an unfortunate accident. Kenneth Severin died in a brutal and terrifying manner in the custody of prison officers using a form of restraint that has resulted in previous deaths and yet both prison officers and those responsible for their training claimed they were not aware of any potential dangers.”

This death is an indictment both of a criminal justice system that imprisons the mentally ill and of conditions and regimes in Belmarsh prison hospital where Kenneth Severin was subjected to totally inappropriate, inhuman and degrading treatment.

INQUEST’s involvement in many deaths in custody highlights the failure of the prison service to learn from and respond to concerns raised by these deaths despite continued loss of life.