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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 13:43 GMT
'They took my little boy away'
By Sarah Bell
BBC News

Adam Rickwood
Adam Rickwood was badly affected by his grandfather's death

The use of restraints in youth custody to enforce discipline should be banned, MPs and peers have said.

The mother of the youngest person to die in British custody knows only too well the potential consequences of such techniques. "They took a little boy and gave me back a body," says Carol Pounder.

Her son, Adam Rickwood, was only 14 when he hanged himself just hours after being restrained at the Hassockfield Secure Training centre in County Durham.

His mother is fighting for a public inquiry to discover what happened and push the government to ban the practices.

What gives anyone the right to punch a 14-year-old boy in the nose and make it bleed?
Carol Pounder

As a child, Adam was a "really happy boy with no worries," she says. But after struggling to cope with a number of deaths in the family he was diagnosed with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Adam was sent to Hassockfield in July 2004 for wounding a man. Ms Pounder says days later the victim went to a police station to say Adam was not the attacker.

Within a month he was dead.

'No right'

On the night he died he was ordered to his room after passing a rude note from a boy in a cell to a security guard.

Adam refused to go, saying he hadn't done anything wrong, and the officer called for back-up.

The inquest into his death, held last May, heard a member of staff had restrained him using a "nose distraction technique" - an upward blow to the nose.

Government guidelines say certain restraint techniques are allowed when a person is being violent.

"What gives anyone the right to punch a 14-year-old boy in the nose and make it bleed?," Ms Pounder says.

"He was really upset, saying 'they've broken my nose, can you come now'."

Hours later, Adam was found hanging in his cell.


"He would have been upset, completely scared and would have been thinking 'I didn't do anything wrong and they did this to me, what if I had done something wrong, what would happen then?' He would have been petrified," she says.

Ms Pounder has called for a public inquiry into Adam's death.

She said restraint was used "day in, day out," across the country.

"There are kids as young as 11, and these are some of the most vulnerable children going.

"The government has got to put a stop to it now. To stop another family going through what we are going through."

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