“Nightmare” of hanged prisoner’s mother

Jake Hardy
Jake Hardy

The mother of a jailed 17-year-old boy who hanged himself after being bullied has said she wakes up to a nightmare every day and claimed prison staff in Wigan could have prevented his suicide.

Staff at Hindley youth offenders institution have been accused of failing to give Jake Hardy proper support before he fatally injured himself in his cell on January 20 2012. He was taken to hospital but died four days later.

The teenager, who was serving six months for affray and common assault, had previously complained that he was being picked on and had said that he was better off dead, charity INQUEST said.

An inquest jury at Bolton Coroner’s Court found that he had died as a result of his own deliberate act but that there was not enough evidence to prove he intended to commit suicide, and they highlighted a number of failures at the youth jail.

His mother Elizabeth Hardy said: “While we finally have some answers, as a family we have been shocked by the attitude of some of the officers, who clearly just didn’t care that my son was being bullied.

“Other officers took such small steps and but never followed it through to the end. If they had done their job properly they could have prevented Jake’s death.

“I feel distraught that Jake could have been moved to a safer cell the night he hung himself. Every day we have to wake up to this nightmare that Jake died and some officers could have helped him.

“Jake was too vulnerable and should never have gone to a place like Hindley to start with. I kept my son safe for 17 years yet Hindley couldn’t keep him safe for two months.”

Jake had special needs and had previously been bullied at school before he was sent to the jail in December 2011.

In his first week there, he said that other boys on his wing were trying to intimidate him, INQUEST said, and a short while later said he would be better off dead and that officers “took the piss out of him”.

On January 17 2012 he cut his wrist and told staff he had been suffering verbal abuse for “a prolonged period of time”, and the following day his mother warned a senior officer that he had thought of ending his life.

Over the next few days inmates shouted through his cell door and kicked it, and he damaged furniture in his cell over the abuse.

On January 20, a senior officer locked him in his cell, saying he was going home, and less than an hour later the teenager was found hanged.

He left a note saying: “So mum if you are reading this I not alive cos I can not cope in prison people giveing me shit even staff”, and had written on a complaint form that he wanted staff to “do their job properly”.

The jury found that Jake’s death was contributed to by failures to give him enough support, record his suicidal thoughts and reports of verbal abuse, and move him to another cell.

On the day he died, there were also failures to let him use the phone, protect him from other inmates, and review his risk of self-harm and the number of times he would be checked.

The family’s solicitor Helen Stone said: “The jury have delivered a devastatingly critical verdict identifying a range of serious failings from the moment Jake entered Hindley until the time he hanged himself.

“He constantly asked staff to protect him from bullying, they failed to do so and this caused to him take his own life.

“As Jake said in the complaints form he wrote, all Jake wanted was for staff to do their job properly, they failed to do so, they failed him, and materially contributed to this child’s death.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, said: “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.

“The decision to ignore the heartbreaking pleas for help from a scared child alone in his cell, resulting in his desperate act, should shame us all.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Our sympathies are with Jake Hardy’s family and friends.

“We will consider the findings of his inquest to see what lessons can be learned in addition to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s investigation.

“Since Jake’s death we have made strenuous efforts to make changes and share learning. This includes the circulation of a number of bulletins that highlight key learning points and suggested actions to establishments

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen, who investigated Jake’s death, expressed concerns about the treatment of children behind bars.

He said: “This is a disturbing story of failure to protect properly a young person with multiple vulnerabilities. None of the systems designed to protect children at Hindley worked effectively and there were many failures to share information.

“He was very vulnerable but it appeared almost as if no-one heard what he was telling them or appreciated that his sometimes challenging behaviour might be a symptom of significant distress.

“Tragically, this is one of three apparently self-inflicted deaths of children in custody my office has investigated in the past two years. In each case, I have been concerned that too many of the systems in YOIs holding children replicate those in adult prisons. Once again, a number of our criticisms in this investigation repeat this theme.

“Accordingly, while a large number of recommendations are made to learn lessons and address the specific failures identified in his case, there are also some broader recommendations to the National Offender Management Service and Youth Justice Board intended to ensure a more holistic and child-focused approach to managing and safeguarding children at risk of suicide and self-harm.”

The other two deaths are Alex Kelly, 15, who was at Cookham Wood in Kent, and Ryan Clark, 17, who was at Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

Death at Yarls Wood detention centre


An investigation has been launched following the death of a 40-year-old woman at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire today.

The Home Office said the death was “sudden” and “unexplained.”

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said: “Sadly, we can confirm the death of a female detainee at Yarl’s Wood on March 30.”

“It would not be appropriate to comment further as the death is subject to a police investigation. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed in line with standard procedure.”

Yashika Bageerathi, a 19-year-old-student who is awaiting deportation, has been at Yarl’s Wood since March 19.

She told Channel 4 news: “Today is just a bad day … Someone died in here. Everyone is sad. They just can’t believe it happened in here.”

Prisoner ‘Murdered’ At HM Prison Lindholme


Two inmates have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a prisoner was found dead at a jail.

Staff at HMP Lindholme, Doncaster, called in South Yorkshire Police at 3.50pm yesterday following the death of a 22-year-old man.

A police spokesman said: “A 23-year-old man and a 26-year-old man, both inmates, have been arrested and detained at HMP Lindholme on suspicion of murder.

“The deceased’s family has been informed.”

A post-mortem examination was due to be carried out today.


Police Probed After Jail Cell Death

cardiff prison

Police conduct during the period between the arrest of a man for assault and his death in prison three days later is under investigation.

Christopher Shapley, 43, of Aberdare, was found dead in a cell on September 20 after his transfer from South Wales Police custody the day before.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is looking at police action prior to his transfer to the court and prison service.

The police watchdog will focus on a period from Mr Shapley’s arrest for assault on September 17 when he was taken to Merthyr Tydfil Custody Unit.

The investigation is an automatic referral, under the Police Reform Act, triggered by the contact the force had with him before his death.

Mr Shapley was charged with common assault and threats to kill on September 18 and was remanded in custody before his court hearing on 19 September.

He was then transferred from police custody to HM Prison Cardiff and was discovered dead in his cell on September 20.

Jan Williams, IPCC commissioner for Wales, said: “This is a difficult time for Mr Shapley’s family and friends and they have my every sympathy over their loss. Our investigators have met with Mr Shapley’s family and explained what we will be investigating.

“We will seek to establish what information was available to the police to inform any risk assessments made, how that information was obtained and recorded and whether it was properly shared with other agencies.

“Our investigation will also investigate police actions and decisions, as well as relevant policies and procedures and whether these were followed.”

The Prison Ombudsman will carry out a separate investigation into Mr Shapley’s death.


Set out below are Fatal Incident Reports just issued by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) who is required to investigate all deaths in custody.

Although the Ombudsman can only report on a death in custody after an Inquest has taken place, his reports have come in for constant criticism.

Mark Leech editor of the national newspaper for prisoners, Converse, said:

“In all honesty what on earth is the use of these reports?

“They do not name the prisoner concerned, despite the fact the inquest will have done so and the death is usually the subject of a press release from the Ministry of Justice at the time it occurs – why not name names?

“Also of more concern is that some of the deaths they relate to and which the PPO is only now reporting on, took place up to seven years ago in 2005; it has to be asked what possible use can these reports fulfil after such a gap of time?


Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Update

26th Mar – 30th Mar Feb 2012

Welcome to the PPO Update; a quick and easy way to access the latest reports, publications and announcements from our office. The links below will enable you to access further information about the items.


The PPO recently published five Fatal Incident reports;

Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP Full Sutton in July 2010*

This is the report of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man in July 2010 at HMP Full Sutton. He was found at about 6.40am, during a routine check. He had a ligature made from a shoelace around his neck which was attached to the window bars. He was 41 years old when he died.



Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man in July 2010 whilst in the custody of HMP Hewell*

This is the report of an investigation into the death of a prisoner at HMP Hewell who died on 9 July 2010. In March 2010, the man attempted to take his own life by tying a ligature to the bars of his landing. He was subsequently placed on the prison’s self-harm monitoring and support procedures. Although they were closed when the risk reduced, staff re-introduced them just over six weeks later, on 22 June, when the risk increased again. The procedures were still in place when, on 9 July, the man was found in his cell. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was 46 years old.



Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP & YOI Parc in March 2006*

This is the report of an investigation into the death of a man at HM Prison and Young Offender Institution Parc in March 2006. The man was found dead in his cell. He had been remanded into custody awaiting sentence for various offences. He was 44 years of age.



Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP Parc in May 2005*

This report concerns the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP and YOI Parc on 30 May 2005. The man was a 32 year old single man, born and brought up in South Wales. He was serving a four year sentence for drug offences. The man was found dead in his cell on Bank Holiday Monday, 30 May. Resuscitation was attempted by the prison nurses but the paramedics declared life extinct when they attended.


Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP Bullingdon in January 2009*

This is the report of an investigation into the death of a man at HMP Bullingdon. He was found in his cell in the early hours of the morning of 9 January 2009, having made cuts to his neck with a razor blade. At the time of his death he was in the midst of his trial at Crown Court for the alleged murder of his wife. He was 49 years old.



Investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP Liverpool in February 2010*

This report considers the circumstances surrounding the death of a man at HMP Liverpool in February 2010. He was found in his cell around 5.20am. He was 53 years old.


If you wish to be added to the PPO Update List please email ppocomms@ppo.gsi.gov.uk with the message: ADD ME and your contact information.