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A prisoner who took his own life in HMP Belmarsh should never have been in prison, an inquest jury has found

4 October 2016

Richard Reynolds

Richard Walsh, aged 43, was found hanging in his cell at HMP Belmarsh on 19 July 2015. At the conclusion of a four week inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court, the jury found “neglect constituted by the gross failure to provide basic medical care”. Richard Reynolds of Garden Court Chambers represented the family of Richard Walsh at the inquest.

Richard Walsh was on treatment for depression, had previously been sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 and had a history of attempted suicide. On the night of his arrest, Mr Walsh had been subject to a mental health assessment at the police station by two psychiatrists and an Approved Mental Health Professional.

The assessing team decided not to section Mr Walsh and made no plan for follow up by mental health services. The jury found that the team failed to obtain available information about Mr Walsh’s delusional behaviour, and that the psychiatrists failed to section Mr Walsh again.  The jury concluded that Mr Walsh should have been detained in a psychiatric hospital where he would probably not have taken his own life.  Richard Reynolds of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties and Inquests team represented the family of Mr Walsh at the inquest. Richard was instructed by Helen Stone of Hickman & Rose Solicitors.

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