Prison’s failings in suicide case

Gavin Hogg.
Gavin Hogg.

A JAILED killer who took his own life while on suicide watch was let down by the prison system, a court has heard.

Gavin Hogg, 35, was found hanged in his cell on February 22 2007.

Hogg was jailed for 20 years in 2006 for the murder of David Burrows. Mr Burrows, 36, was killed at M and B Haulage at Low Mills industrial estate, Ravensthorpe, in September 2005.

This week a jury at a Leeds inquest into Hogg’s death deliberated the case for 24 hours after hearing evidence for 10 days.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide and ruled it was ‘unacceptable and unsatisfactory’ that warning signals were not acted on.

The court heard Hogg, formerly of Wellhouse Lane, Mirfield, had made a will leaving everything to his mother, Christine Watson.

But the jury said prison staff had failed to recognise and report its significance.

A jury statement added: “This was a major omission that could have prevented suicide through increased observations borne out through a reassessment of the risk of suicide.”

It said staff had insufficient training, communication between departments was lacking and prison staff did not share clinical departments’ concerns about Hogg.

The court heard Hogg had been expecting a two year sentence but was shocked when the judge jailed him for 20 years in 2006.

He was left devastated after losing an appeal and the court heard he repeatedly told his mother he did not want to live.

Hogg was put in a single cell for his own safety and regularly watched - but was found dead at 4am, just 30 minutes after his last inspection.

The jury stated Hogg’s refusal to take medication, and a conversation with his father regarding committing suicide, which was related to staff, were warning signals that were not acted upon.

The jury said: “It is unacceptable and unsatisfactory that these warning signals were not acted on when dealing with a suicide prisoner who was already on a care plan and in a safer cell.

“The risk level regarding Gavin was should clearly have been raised.”

The jury also said it was completely inappropriate that resuscitation was not started until 17 minutes after Hogg was found.

Following the hearing his mother, Mrs Watson, said: “I hope this inquest has given hope to some other parent that their son or daughter will survive in prison.

“I can’t bring Gavin back, but I trust other prisoners will be safer as a result of what has been learnt.”