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Sarah Reed inquest: Prison failure contributed to death

VICTIM: Sarah Reed

AN INQUEST jury criticised the prison system over a series of failings that contributed to the death of Sarah Reed at Holloway Prison.

The mother-of-one was found dead on her cell bed with a ligature on her neck on January 11 2016, after spending 90 days in prison while on remand.

The 32 year-old was held in prison awaiting 'fitness to plead' reports for the Inner London Crown Court, two of which concluded she was in no fit mental state to stand trial – but arrived after her death.

Marking the end of a three-week inquest, the jury at the City of London Coroner’s Court identified a number of failings at the prison that lead to Reed’s death.

According to the Islington Tribune:

"The jury said an assessment by psychiatrists on Reed’s fitness to plead medical report for the court was not sufficiently timely and should have been made available sooner. It was particularly difficult for them to understand the delay given Ms Reed was placed in C1, the prison’s mental health unit, for almost a month.

“If a timely fitness to plead assessment had been performed in compliance with the court notice [by December 15], then Sarah Reed would not still have been incarcerated in HMP Holloway at the time of her subsequent mental deterioration but in the hands of her community mental health team,” the jury said.

The jury added:

“She was not receiving adequate treatment for her deteriorating mental state to alleviate her distress.”

They also noted a “lack of any contingency plan” in Holloway Prison to manage her psychosis which “contributed greatly to the levels of Sarah’s distress”.

Speaking after the hearing, Lee Jasper, a former adviser to ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone and spokesman for Reed’s family, said:

“It’s a cumulative effect of catastrophic failure. It’s usually one in an inquest, but here there is a range. The court doesn’t push [for the psychiatric report] and make it clear that they want the psychiatric evaluation [and] when it comes to court, there’s delay and confusion and it happened during the middle of Christmas.

“I can’t believe people wanted to dump Sarah and enjoy their Christmas turkey, come back in the new year and [thought] it would be all right.”

Following the death of her infant daughter in 2003, Reed had suffered from serious mental health issues. She was also brought to the public's attention after being brutality beaten by a Metropolitan police officer, PC James Kiddie, five years ago – an incident which her family said worsened her mental health.

In tribute to her late daughter Reed’s mother Marylin Goldring said:

“Sarah was adored and loved by the whole of her family. Her death has been devastating for us. Before she was remanded she had started to turn her life around. Sarah was in a good relationship. She was my first daughter and was very much treasured.”

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