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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Hanged detainee aimed to save son
Manuel Bravo
Manuel Bravo had lived in Leeds for about three years
An asylum seeker who hanged himself hours before he was due to be deported took his own life to protect his son's future, an inquest jury has decided.

Manuel Bravo, 35, hanged himself in a stairwell at the Yarl's Wood Detention Centre, Bedford, on 15 September 2005.

He and his son Antonio, 13, were to be returned to Angola the next day.

Bedford Coroner's Court heard police and immigration officers arrested the father and son in a dawn raid at their home in Armley, Leeds, on 14 September.

The pair were taken to Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre.

Bedford Coroner's Court heard that in the early hours of the night Mr Bravo left his son in their room, walked along a corridor and hanged himself.

'Distressful situation'

A note found in Mr Bravo's room said: "I kill myself because I don't have a life to live any more. I want my son Antonio to stay in the UK to continue his studies."

The note said he did not want to go back to Angola to suffer and added: "It is not the fault of anyone it is just my decision."

The note echoed a letter Mr Bravo had written five months earlier in Armley Library in Leeds. The letter, which Coroner David Morris read to the jury, said: "This situation is very distressful for me. I can't work. I can't do anything with my life.

"It is not easy for me to live in this manner. I feel sick I want to die or kill myself. I can't return to my country because it is not safe for me or my son Antonio. If I return I will be tortured.

"If I die here I would like my son to stay with the government or the NSPCC or youth protection."

After the hearing the Rev Alistair Kaye, vicar of Christ Church, Armley, said the whole tragedy could have been avoided if the immigration process had listened fully to Mr Bravo's story.

But while giving their verdict the jurors said: "None of those involved detected any risk of him taking his own life."

Deputy prisons ombudsman Alison McMurray said: "We were satisfied that there were no breaches of process and that there had been no indication that Mr Bravo was thinking of killing himself."

Rev Kaye said Mr Bravo's son was now settled with a long-term foster family in the Leeds area.

Inquiry into detainee's 'suicide'
15 Sep 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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