Today, the jury returned a devastatingly critical verdict in the inquest into the death of Jake Hardy, a highly vulnerable young person who hanged himself after staff failed to protect him from being constantly bullied in HMPYOI Hindley.
The jury unanimously found that all 12 serious prison failures argued for on behalf of Jake's family were proved, and each materially contributed to his death.
The jury heard evidence that Jake, who suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia, constantly asked staff to protect him from extremely serious bullying, including threats to stab him. The staff failed to safeguard Jake adequately, breaching national self-harm prevention and safeguarding policies. As Jake said in a complaints form found in his cell after he hanged himself, all he wanted was 'for staff to do their job properly.' Jake wrote a final note shortly before he took his life. In it, he said that he no longer wanted to live because the bullying he suffered and staff 'taking the piss' meant that he could no longer cope. In his final paragraph, he said that it was 'the staff's fault.'
Deb Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST, with whom Jake's legal team worked closely, stated:
'Jake Hardy was utterly failed by prison officers and a prison system supposed to protect him. Every warning sign about his vulnerability was starkly evident but systematically ignored. How many times do inquests have to report on children dying in prisons that are rife with bullying, physical restraint and self-harm. The decision to exclude children from the review recently announced into prison deaths of young people in custody must be reversed.'
Dexter Dias QC and Richard Reynolds of Garden Court were instructed by Helen Stone, Daniel Machover, Eva Whittall and Shona Crallan of Hickman Rose. All lawyers received the invaluable assistance and support of INQUEST's Deb Coles and Anita Sharma.
Dexter and Richard are both members of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests Team.