Prisoner found hanged in his cell felt “bullied”

Nathan Vaughan-Jones SUS-150207-091027001
Nathan Vaughan-Jones SUS-150207-091027001

A prisoner who was found hanged in his cell had felt “bullied” and “threatened” in the lead up to his death, an inquest has heard.

Nathan Vaughan-Jones had been sentenced to 11 years in prison after admitting the manslaughter of 63-year-old Nigel Ross on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Lewes Prison ENGSUS00120121114095805

Lewes Prison ENGSUS00120121114095805

The 34-year-old had stabbed his “controlling” step-father 41 times in his sister’s garden, in Mill Lane, South Chailey, on March 29, 2011 after a long-running family feud.

Mr Vaughan-Jones had only been a few months into his sentence when he was found dead in his prison cell, on the evening of July 27, 2012.

An inquest into his death, held at Eastbourne Town Hall this week, heard how the ME sufferer had been moved to a different wing of HMP Lewes after being “bullied” by other prisoners. He claimed to find inmates in his cell, going through his papers, and one even threatened to “cut” him.

After being moved to another wing, Mr Vaughan-Jones was said to have felt “isolated” and applied for a transfer to Lowdham Grange Prison, which had been granted.

The jury heard how he had appeared optimistic about the move, but had committed suicide before it had a chance to materialise. While there was no clear suicide note in his cell, a number of sealed envelopes were later found to contain letters to family members, clearly stating his intentions to take his own life, and even the manner in which he planned to do so.

In the letters, Mr Vaughan-Jones said he was convinced the investigation into his case had been re-opened but would not explain how he knew this.

Mike Brown, who was the safety custody manager at the prison at the time of the incident, gave evidence at the inquest. He said: “Nathan put a request in to be a listener, which is the prison equivalent of a Samaritan. He was very quiet and reserved but I received positive feedback about his work on the four-day training course.

“I never had any problems with Nathan. He came across as someone who wasn’t a criminal type - he was a square peg in a round hole in prison.

“He was over the moon about his move to Lowdham Grange and there was nothing to give me the concern that he was going to take his life.”

Mr Brown’s thoughts were echoed by Helen Stevens, a community psychiatric nurse, who described Mr Vaughan-Jones as “very respectful” and “not a typical prisoner”.

In her statement, she said he had told her that although it wasn’t his ideal environment, he said he was dealing with it and adapting as best he could. She expressed some concern he wasn’t coming out of his cell or eating, but agreed there were no major concerns he would hurt himself.

Coroner Alan Craze said he felt the decision to commit suicide had not been one Mr Vaughan-Jones made in the spur of the moment, but had been planned over time.

The inquest continues.

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