Bullying was a problem at a young offenders’ institute near Leeds around the time a teenager hanged himself in his cell, an inquest jury heard.
Angie Petit, who was acting governor at Wetherby Young Offenders’ Institute (YOI), told a hearing at Leeds Coroners Court that Ryan Clark, from Armley, was subjected to abusive ‘shout outs’ from inmates in other cells the night before he was found.
The 17-year-old, who was on remand after being arrested on suspicion of two burglaries, was found hanging from a ligature made from a bed sheet suspended from a window in his cell on ‘D’ Wing at 8am on April 18 2011.
Deputy Coroner Melanie Williamson asked the governor how serious the consequences of ‘shout outs’ could be yesterday.
Ms Petit said: “It could result in a fight the next morning when the young people were unlocked because generally they would insult each other.”
When asked if bullying was an issue when she was working at Wetherby YOI, Ms Petit said: “Yes bullying was a problem.”
The inquest heard she was alerted to the suicide through a radio call to health workers at around 7.50am on April 18.
She said it emerged after his death that there had been ‘shout outs’ on ‘D’ Wing the night prior.
The acting governor said a fellow inmate told officers that on April 17, Mr Clark shouted from his cell: “I’m going to string up, put on your cell bell.”
Ruth Bundy, representing Mr Clark’s mother Sonia Daggett, said the inmate told officers he had opted not to ring his cell alarm because he already had been given warnings for incorrectly using it.
Stating she wasn’t aware of the inmate’s claim, Ms Petit said: “That would be an appropriate use of a cell bell.”
Ms Bundy also told the court that a Security Information Report logged on the morning Mr Clark was found suggested that two inmates on the wing were implicated as bullies.
When asked if she was aware that the pair were “shipped out” to Hindley YOI hours after Mr Clark was found, Ms Petit said: “It’s unlikely that I might have said, ‘yes move those people’.”
The court was told that it was established that Mr Clark had a step cousin who had been moved to the Keppel high dependency block of Wetherby YOI after a suicide attempt in March 2011.
Earlier in the inquest, which is due to run for five weeks, jurors were told Mr Clark spent 13 years in care and his stint at YOI was his first experience of custody. Proceeding