25th May 2012

A jury has returned a highly critical verdict following the inquest into the death of Paul Murphy, who died aged 39 in Lincoln Prison on 13 June 2008.

The jury found that Paul had killed himself while his balance of mind was disturbed, and highlighted a catalogue of failures within the prison that contributed to his death.  These included ongoing bullying from a prison officer who was running a drugs and mobile phone ring within the prison.  The officer has since been sacked but no criminal charges against him have been brought.

The jury also found that the failure of prison staff to inform Healthcare of the opening of the ACCT document (Assessment, Care in Custody, and Teamwork – the system used for prisoners who are at risk of self harm) meant that there was no medical assessment of Paul’s bizarre behaviour and paranoia, nor a proper risk assessment as to his level of observation.

A spokesperson for the family said:

“The inquest has demonstrated conclusively that Paul should not have died.  It is shocking that the prison governor allowed such widespread bullying to continue for so long, and I am hugely disappointed with what seems to have been a highly inadequate police investigation into the activities of this prison officer.

“I am also very disappointed that crucial procedures relating to vulnerable prisoners were not followed. I hope that the governor will address the lack of training, resources and procedures that led to the lack of proper care for Paul in the days leading up to his death.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“Paul’s death raises very serious management failings to deal with horrific bullying by a prison officer and to ensure training and management of the ACCT process which is supposed to protect prisoners who are at risk. And these are not isolated issues.  This shocking and shameful case warrants an urgent response from Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt.”