Cumbria

HMP Haverigg: Inmate 'sexually assaulted before death'

HMP Haverigg Image copyright Google
Image caption HMP Haverigg is a category C prison

A prisoner found hanging in his cell had been sexually assaulted shortly before his death, a coroner has heard.

Keith Abbott, 32, was serving a four-year sentence at HMP Haverigg, near Barrow, when he died in his single-occupancy cell on 15 July 2016.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armour told his inquest he had been subjected to a "serious sexual assault".

She also said other "unusual features" meant she "could not exclude an unlawful act" from causing his death.

Police made a number of arrests in the wake of Abbott's death but, after an investigation, no charges were brought.

The inquest, which is being heard by a jury at Carlisle Crown Court, is expected to last two weeks with about 60 witnesses set to give evidence.

Self-harm

Jurors were told Abbott had been under the care of a mental health team during 2015 while on remand at HMP Liverpool awaiting sentence.

Due to a history of mental health problems, Abbott, from Edge Lane in Liverpool, was also subject to an Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) plan used by the prison service to identify and care for those at risk of self-harm or suicide.

That plan was closed before he was transferred to category C Haverigg prison, the jurors heard.

Dr Armour concluded the cause of death was hanging.

She said she found a "complex and intricate ligature" the like of which she had not seen during her 30-year career.

The pathologist said: "Because of all the unusual features, I could not exclude that an unlawful act had occurred in the death of Keith Abbott in the process of hanging."

Senior Cumbria coroner Kally Cheema told the 11-strong jury the inquest was for fact-finding, not to apportion blame.

The inquest continues.

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