Man who raped daughter died in HMP Leeds before release review - report findings

A man jailed for raping his own daughter died from lung cancer before his application for early release on compassionate grounds was reviewed, an independent report found.

Friday, 1st May 2020, 6:00 am

Ashleigh Pell, who died at HMP Leeds, had been diagnosed with the disease two years prior to his conviction and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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The 67-year-old from Skipton was jailed for 18 years in January 2019 after being found guilty of raping his daughter, who waived her right to anonymity.

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Ashleigh Pell, who raped his own daughter, died while serving his sentenced at HMP Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

Bradford Crown Court heard the offences took place in the 80s and early 90s, when the victim was aged between 12 and 14 years old.

In the same month that he was jailed, Mr Pell was told that he only had between six and 12 months left to live. He died in the prison's healthcare unit on May 26 last year, with his partner present.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, which reviews all deaths in custody, made three recommendations following its investigation into his death.

Assistant Ombudsman Caroline Mills noted that Mr Pell had made an application to the Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) for early release on compassionate grounds on April 9.

Her report said three requests for information were made to the prison by the PPCS but the necessary details had not been provided before he died, meaning the application was not considered.

Ms Mills said: "Mr Pell was terminally ill and nearing the end of his life. We consider that prison staff at Leeds should have acted more quickly in responding to the requests for more

information by the PPCS.

"While we cannot say whether Mr Pell would have been granted compassionate release, he should have had the opportunity to have an application considered before he died."

The report found the clinical care received was of a reasonable standard and at least equivalent to the care that he could have expected to receive in the wider community.

However, a clinical reviewer found Mr Pell went without his steroid medication between May 23 and 25 and did not have any medication to help reduce his respiratory secretions on the day he died.

The report noted that plans had been made for Mr Pell to died in a hospice but his health deteriorated unexpectedly and he was too unwell to be moved from the prison healthcare

unit.

It recommended that the Governor and Head of Healthcare at HMP Leeds should ensure that staff respond promptly to requests for information about early compassionate

release from the PPCS so that applications can be considered as soon as possible.

Further recommendations were that the Head of Healthcare and Lead Pharmacist at HMP Leeds must ensure that all prescriptions are reviewed and maintained where appropriate, and the the Head of Healthcare should ensure that an effective process is used to ensure that learning from investigations are put into practice.

In an action plan published alongside the report, all three recommendations were accepted by the prison and its healthcare provider.

On the application issues, the prison said: "The delay in this instance was due to the lead prison GP being on annual leave at the time of request. We will always endeavour to get the information in a speedy manner. When a lead clinician is on annual leave, we try to obtain information as soon as possible and this practice will continue."

It added that a regional medical lead had been appointed in September last year and was able to help with information requests relating to early compassionate release in absence of the lead GP.

It was noted that all missed medications of concern are discussed daily at a service meeting, the lead GP has distributed a list of all medications of concern that need to be raised and the pharmacy department completed an audit in October last year to ensure repeat prescriptions are used appropriately.

The action plan also said that HMP Leeds already disseminates learning from investigations to staff via email, team meetings and full staff meetings.

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