A TEENAGER from Leeds found hanging in his cell while on remand after being arrested on suspicion of two robberies was “scared to death” of a lengthy custodial sentence, an inquest jury heard.
Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard Ryan Clark, 17, of Armley, was found hanging from a ligature made from a bed sheet suspended from a window in his cell on ‘D’ wing at Wetherby YOI just after 8am on April 18 2011.
The inquest heard prison service staff and a paramedic battled in vain to revive Ryan, who was pronounced dead in hospital later that morning.
Ryan was arrested on March 29 2011 and spent a night in police custody before being transferred to Wetherby YOI on March 30. The inquest jury was told it was his first experience of custody.
Two of Ryan’s older brothers, who had both previously served sentences at Wetherby YOI, gave evidence on the first day of the inquest, which is expected to last five weeks.
Deputy Coroner Melanie Williamson asked his brother Nathan Clark: “Was Ryan really concerned about going to jail?”
Nathan Clark replied: “Yes, he was scared to death.”
Ms Williamson asked: “Have you ever been to Wetherby?” Nathan Clark: “Yes.” Ms Williamson: “How would Ryan have coped?” Nathan Clark: “Not very well.”
Nathan Clark said there was a “lot of bullying” at Wetherby YOI when he spent two months at the institution six years ago. He added: “It was everything, swearing and people shouting out of windows, people getting smacked.”
Miss Williamson asked Nathan Clark: “If he had been bullied, would he have been able to deal with it and sort the bullies out?” Nathan Clark replied: “I don’t think he could have, no.”
A second brother, Gino Clark, gave evidence flanked by two security guards after being led in to the coroner’s court in handcuffs. Ms Williamson asked him: “Would [Ryan] be so badly affected by verbal bullying that he would do something extreme?” Gino Clark: “It’s unlikely.”
Ryan Clark’s mother Sonia Daggett told the court he had spent 13 years in care. The inquest jury was shown copies of letters Ryan sent to his mother while he was at the YOI. Mrs Daggett wiped away tears as the letters were read out at the inquest. In one, Ryan wished her happy Mother’s day and wrote: “I just hope the time I’m going to spend in here is for the best and hope it’s going to teach me a lesson.”