An inmate sentenced for causing a motorway coach crash was found hanged in his cell after less than 24 hours in jail, an inquest has heard.The inquest into the death of Jason Basalat at HMP Woodhill, near Milton Keynes, heard there was a failure to recognise he was a risk to himself.A jury at Milton Keynes Coroner’s Court ruled out suicide.They were not satisfied Mr Basalat intended to take his own life in December 2016. The inquest heard Mr Basalat was travelling to London on a National Express coach when he grabbed the steering wheel on the M1, causing it to crash. He claimed voices were telling him to do it and other passengers wanted to kill him. While in police custody at Northampton, he was deemed at high risk of self-harm and monitored on CCTV, the court heard. A mental health assessment could not be carried out the following day, when he was remanded to Woodhill, because staff were not available on Saturdays.
Tina Greenslade, head of the arrival area at the prison, said there was no one available to check the police national computer on Saturday for Mr Basalat’s history and alleged offence. He was assessed by a Woodhill GP, Dr Emmanuel Obi, who told the inquest he would have asked more questions had he known about the coach crash.Dr Obi did not routinely look at a prisoner’s escort form, which contained information about risk, and assumed officers would flag up any concerns, he said. “There was nothing to indicate to me that he was in a mental health crisis,” he said.Senior prison officer John Plumer said he would have placed Mr Basalat on very frequent or constant observations had he known all the relevant information. The following day Mr Basalat, who suffered from schizophrenia, was moved from a shared cell to a single cell after his cell mate complained about his irrational behaviour. He was last checked at 07:15 GMT and was found hanged in his cell at 08:05.The inquest jury concluded that Mr Basalat’s death was contributed to by police and the courts failing to pass on information to the prison, and the prison failing to adequately assess Mr Basalat.Coroner Tom Osborne said he would be writing to Northamptonshire’s chief constable and the courts service about information sharing.
Source: BBC Beds