HMP Wealstun staff sacked after 'troubling case' in which Leeds man found dead in his cell

Three prison staff have been sacked after a "troubling case" in which a Leeds man was found dead in his cell.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 4:45 pm

Lewis Callaghan was found hanging in his cell at HMP Wealstun, in Thorp Arch near Wetherby, on June 5 2018.

He was taken to hospital but died the follow day (June 6).

A report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman found that staff did not assess risk properly, missed vital checks on Mr Callaghan and falsified records.

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Three prison staff have been sacked after a "troubling case" in which a Leeds man was found dead in his cell.
Three prison staff have been sacked after a "troubling case" in which a Leeds man was found dead in his cell.

It also raised concerns about a delay on entering Mr Callaghan’s cell.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Sue McAllister , said: "Our investigation was suspended for some time, while the police investigated Mr Callaghan’s death.

"This is a very troubling case where prison policy for managing those at risk to themselves was not followed.

"Staff missed checks, falsified records, missed reviews and did not assess Mr Callaghan’s risk appropriately after he was given extra days on his sentence.

"Following an internal investigation, three members of staff were dismissed and two were given further training

"I am also concerned that there was a delay entering Mr Callaghan’s cell, after he had prevented staff being able to see into his cell."

Mr Lewis Callaghan was sentenced to a total of seven years’ imprisonment in April 2016 for possession of drugs with intent to supply, breach of a restraining order, affray, destroying/damaging property and assault.

Mr Callaghan thought his sentence was unjust, the report stated.

He was also subject to a restraining order against his former partner, and social services had also prohibited him having contact with daughter, which the report states was an "immense

frustration" to Mr Callaghan.

The report said he arrived at HMP Wealstun in April 2017, and "largely refused" to engage in the prison regime. It added he had many disciplinary hearings.

He also had a history of substance misuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Staff began suicide and self-harm prevention procedures (known as ACCT) but Mr Callaghan would not engage with the process and declined to see a doctor or anyone from the mental health team, reports the Ombudsman,

On May 27, it is said that he threatened to jump from a landing, and had to be held back.

Staff then started ACCT procedures but Mr Callaghan barricaded his cell and tied a ligature around his neck. Staff persuaded him to remove it and started constant observation.

On the morning of June 5, staff did not conduct scheduled ACCT checks and falsified records to say they had done the checks, the Ombudsman found.

At 12.15pm that day, staff locked Mr Callaghan in his cell and did not complete scheduled ACCT checks.

When an officer tried to check him at 1.15pm, the photochromic door had been covered from the inside, making it impossible to see inside the cell.

The officer went to get assistance and when staff went into the cell, they found Mr Callaghan hanging. He died in Leeds General Infirmary the following day.

Four members of staff involved in Mr Callaghan’s care were suspended.

Three were subsequently dismissed/

Two managers attended further ACCT case manager training.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report concluded that it had "serious concerns" about the management of Mr Callaghan’s ACCT, in particular on the morning of June 5 when was not risk assessed but locked alone in his cell.

The report stated: "The prison identified some of these failings after Mr Callaghan’s death.

"Three members of staff were dismissed, and training and advice were provided to other staff."

The Ombudsman made seven key recommendations to the Govenor and Head of Healthcare, including proper management of ACCT procedures and mental health assessments.

Mr Callaghan was the first prisoner to die at Wealstun since 2015, the report states.

There have been three further deaths since Mr Callaghan’s: one drug-related, one that is awaiting classification, and one self-inflicted death that is still being investigated.