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Custody officers say more could have been done to keep prisoner safe

Second day of jury inquest at Douglas Courthouse

Custody officers who looked after an inmate who died at the Isle of Man Prison say they believe more could have been done to keep him safe following a court hearing.

Craig Jack Anderson died in his cell at the Jurby facility on 25 November 2022; he’d received a five year custodial sentence at Douglas Courthouse the day before.

Today (16 April) the jury overseeing the 28-year-old’s inquest heard from former Bidvest Noonan employees who were working in the Isle of Man Courts of Justice on the day he was sentenced.  

“This should not have happened”

The custody officer who collected Mr Anderson from the prison on the morning of his sentencing told the court he’d seemed ‘OK’ and he had no concerns during the journey from Jurby to Douglas.

However Craig Brinkley, who is now a prison officer in Liverpool, told the jury when he saw Mr Anderson again - following his sentencing - he was receiving medical attention in the cells.

This, he learnt, was because Mr Anderson had punched the wall.

Mr Brinkley told the court he expected a ‘Folder 5’ to be opened for the defendant at this stage due to the long sentence he’d received, his sudden change in behaviour and the injury he’d caused.

These assessments are used to manage risk and provide care for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm and are shared between staff working in various custodial settings.  

“If it were me I would have placed him on a Folder 5,” Mr Brinkley told the court adding: “This (Mr Anderson's death) should not have happened.”

Risk

Jurors were also told more about the Person Escort Record form which was provided to the custody staff from the prison.

A PER serves as a record during the escort of a person and is designed to ensure information about them is documented, and shared properly, to mitigate risk.

In Mr Anderson’s case his form had been filled out on 23 November with Coroner of Inquests Graeme Cook telling Mr Brinkley: “I’m a little bit lost as to the sense of this form.”

Return to custody

Coroner of Inquests Cook also asked the former employee whether Mr Anderson had been given the opportunity to see his advocate after being sentenced which Mr Brinkley confirmed had not happened.

The court was told there is no policy in place at Douglas Courthouse to ensure defendants are able to meet with their legal representatives before being taken back to the prison.

Jurors heard there was 17 minutes between Mr Anderson exiting the dock in the courtroom and leaving the courthouse building to go back to Jurby.

“Why did it (the vehicle) go back so quickly?” Coroner of Inquests Cook asked Mr Brinkley.

“Basically they just want to get them (defendants) back to the prison as soon as possible,” he replied.

“So if an advocate doesn’t turn around and say they want to see them?” the coroner questioned.

“They’re gone,” Mr Brinkley told him.

Agitated

The detention officer who accompanied Mr Anderson during his sentencing hearing also gave evidence to the court.

Gary Parish, who had been in the position for less than a month, told the court he'd seemed 'OK 'and was ‘engaging positively’ but had told custody staff: “I’m going to get slammed.”

However Mr Parish said he noticed Mr Anderson becoming ‘very agitated’ during the hearing and was particular distressed when his children were mentioned.

Once Mr Anderson had received his five-year tariff Mr Parish said Mr Anderson had kicked and pushed the door before moving at speed to a cell.

He requested to be taken back to the Isle of Man Prison immediately and was then overheard punching the wall.

‘Hindsight’

Mr Parish told the court he’d received ‘very minimal’ training from Bidvest Noonan but, at that stage, was aware of what a ‘Folder 5’ was.

He said he believed Mr Anderson was punching his cell out of ‘anger and frustration’.

“Could you have done anything differently?” Coroner of Inquests Cook asked him.

“Hindsight’s a wonderful thing. We could have all done something different,” Mr Parish replied.

Mr Parish also revealed that Mr Anderson’s presentation had caused a ‘heated conversation’ between the custody officers who felt a ‘Folder 5’ was necessary ahead of his return to prison.

“From the custody officers’ point of view it should have been opened,” he told the court.

He added that the incident was ‘probably’ why he took the decision to leave his employment with the company.

Inquest continues

The inquest into Mr Anderson's death reconvened yesterday.

It will continue tomorrow (17 April).

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