Essex Prisoner Death: 'Accidental'

26 January 2011, 15:28

James 'Jimmy' Connolly was found hanged in his cell in 2008.

A jury inquest decided the 23 year old's death was accidental but also partly blamed HMP Chelmsford for not taking appropriate precautions to prevent his death.

The dad of two from Peckham - who was also known as Jimmy Sullivan - had been transferred there from Bedford Prison in October 2007 and was serving a sentence for driving offences. 

The inquest heard he had a history of mental illness and was in danger of self harm.

A prison officer found him hanged in his single cell on January 8, 2008, after being moved to B wing from the healthcare centre.

Fran Butcher, Jimmy’s partner and mother of his two children, said:

Jimmy was a kind and loving father and partner. His family and friends remain devastated by his death. Nothing will ever make up for the loss we have suffered. I have however found some solace in the Jury’s findings that the prison failed to take appropriate precautions to prevent Jimmy’s death. I hope this will encourage HMP Chelmsford, and others caring for vulnerable people in custody, to improve the care provided to prisoners like Jimmy, and to ensure vital information is passed on within the prison. If Jimmy’s death can prevent other families from going through this terrible ordeal, our suffering will not have been in vain.

A Prison Service spokesperson said:
 
"Like every death in custody, James Sullivan's death at HMP Chelmsford on 8 January 2008 is a tragedy and our sympathies are with his family and friends."
 
"The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will consider the inquest findings to see what lessons can be learned in addition to those already learned as a result of the investigation conducted by the Prisons & Probation Ombudsman."