Verdict in the Michael Bailey Inquest

Monday 9 February 2009

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Michael Bailey was found hanging in the segregation unit at HMP Rye Hill on 24 March 2005. His death was one of three controversial deaths at the privately-run prison in a fifteen month time period. In the month following the death, Rye Hill was heavily criticised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons who found that "the prison had deteriorated to the extent that we considered that it was at that time an unsafe and unstable environment, both for prisoners and staff.

Today the jury gave a damning verdict, see below for the full report

Michael Bailey's family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member barrister Leslie Thomas of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Nogah Ofer of Hickman and Rose Solicitors.

Main points of the case:

  • Damning inditement of Private prison system.
  • Mental ill man not cared for in prison.
  • Left to die in cell at a time of great vulnerability.

Jury's verdict: Michael Tesfa Bailey


Injury causing death 1(a) Hanging

Time place and circs

At 12.05 on 24 March 2005 in cell 21 on seg unity at HMP Rye Hill, Michael Bailey killed himself whist suffering from a mental illness. We consider that the following factors caused or were more than minimal causal contribution to his death

1. There was a complete or partial failure of communication between

(a) the healthcare staff and the segregation unit staff and

(b) the segregation unit staff and the healthcare staff

concerning Michael Bailey's condition, behaviour, care needs, treatment and medication.

2. There was a failure to carry out a full or adequate mental health assessment during the time that Michael Bailey was held in the segregation unit.

3. That

(a) the prison officers knew or ought to have known that Michael Bailey

was under a real and immediate risk of self harm/suicide

(b) the healthcare staff knew or ought to have known that Michael Bailey

was under a real and immediate risk of self harm/suicide

(c) the doctors knew or ought to have known that Michael Bailey

was under a real and immediate risk of self harm/suicide

4. The failure to recognise the serious nature of Michael Bailey's mental condition resulted in a lost opportunity to render medical treatment.

5. Michael Bailey's death would on a balance of probability have been avoided if

(a) the observations had been properly carried out and recorded

(b) he had been given appropriate medication

(c) he had been placed on constant observations.

(d) healthcare staff had acted upon the information already available to them.

6. The lack of trained and experienced staff and the lack of effective management on the segregation unit created an unsafe environment in which to hold Michael Bailey.

7. Michael Bailey should have continued to be housed on the segregation unit until once he became at risk of self harm/suicide. But should have been transferred to the healthcare unit once he demonstrated signs of psychosis.

8. There was a failure on the part of all staff to take responsibility for ensuring Michael Bailey's safety.

9. There was a system failure in the training, implementation, and operation of the Suicide and Self Harm policy at Rye Hill.

10. Cell 21 into which Michael Bailey was placed was not a safe cell. In considering this we believe there was also a failure to ensure that he did not have the means to self harm.

11. The prison staff, Healthcare staff and doctors did not do all that reasonably could be expected of them to prevent Mr Bailey hanging himself.

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