Wales

HMP Berwyn drug death inmate 'had discussed moving wings'

Luke Jones
Image caption Luke Jones had tried to kill himself in the days before he died

A prisoner who died after taking Spice had discussed moving to a different wing where the drug was harder for him to access, an inquest has heard.

Luke Morris Jones, 22, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, died in March 2018 after taking the synthetic drug inside HMP Berwyn in Wrexham.

The inquest at Ruthin heard there was talk of moving him from Alwen wing to Bala wing in the days before his death.

Jones later changed his mind about the move and died on 31 March.

Angela Firmin, head of safety at HMP Berwyn, said the move was discussed on the basis Jones did not know as many people on Bala wing.

She told the inquest he had a history of drug use, but this information was not automatically shared with her because of confidentiality issues.

At the time of his death, Jones was considered to be at risk of suicide and self-harm. The inquest heard there were 60 documented incidents of him self-harming at HMP Berwyn.

On 14 March, he got into a fight and lost his job in the kitchens - described in court as a "major setback" to his prison life.

He was placed on constant watch after he tried to take his own life on 26 March, but this was relaxed the day before his death, and he was instead supposed to be checked four times an hour.

Ms Firmin said Jones had been in a "good period" in terms of drug-taking and was "really upbeat" on the day of his death, but "knew he could get them [drugs] if he wanted them".

She said she did not think his improvement in mood was because he knew he would be able to access drugs.

Carol Dolan, the custodial manager on Alwen wing, said drug use was happening "frequently" in that part of the jail.

She told the coroner privileges would not automatically be withdrawn if a prisoner was found under the influence of drugs, and neither would this necessarily trigger an automatic search of their cell.

Rachel James, head of custody at HMP Berwyn, told the inquest there had been a problem with Spice getting into the prison through the mail, before Jones' death, including some falsely-signed "Rule 39" letters - which are supposed to be legally-privileged mail.

She added scanners were now being used in the prison, which can scan for illegal drugs in the post, and things were improving. But she said it was "still a prison stabilising".

She said work was being done to manage inmates with links to organised crime outside of prison.

The inquest continues.

More on this story