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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Prison neglect 'contributed to suicide'
Keita Craig died in Wandsworth prison
Keita Craig died in Wandsworth prison
A landmark second inquest has ruled a prison's neglect contributed to the suicide of a schizophrenic.

Twenty-two year old Keita Craig was found hanged at Wandsworth Prison in south London on 1 February last year - despite repeated warnings he was at risk.

The second inquest was ordered by the High Court in February after legal action by Mr Craig's family to consider whether neglect or lack of care contributed to the death.

The jury at the original inquest returned a verdict that Mr Craig, a paranoid schizophrenic, killed himself whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed.


No family should have to go through what we have been through to get even this small taste of justice

Erin Pizzey, Keita Craig's grandmother
At this second inquest, at Westminster Coroner's Court, the jury also reached that verdict, but crucially added that the cause of death was contributed to by neglect.

Keita Craig was the son of Culture Club bass player Mikey Craig and grandson of Erin Pizzey, the women's refuge pioneer.

Staff alerted to risk

Staff in the prison had been told at least five times that Mr Craig was at risk through telephone calls, faxes and in reports.

He hanged himself by his shoelaces, which had been returned to him by prison staff even though warders at Richmond Magistrates Court, where he had appeared on a robbery charge, had confiscated them, fearing he would harm himself.

Cleo Scott, Keita's mother, welcomed the inquest's decision
Cleo Scott, Keita's mother, welcomed the inquest's decision
Mr Craig, of Richmond, south-west London, a former music student, had been remanded in custody at Richmond Magistrates Court the day before his death while efforts were made to find him a place at a psychiatric unit.

While in custody there, his shoelaces were confiscated.

He had also tried to bite and claw open his wrists.

The laces were given back to him when he arrived at Wandsworth Prison.

Mr Craig was put in a single cell on the hospital wing, but staff did not put him on a 'suicide watch', where prisoners would be checked every 15 minutes.

He also answered a medical screening questionnaire where he denied feeling suicidal or excessively anxious.

Family's suffering

Cleo Scott, Mr Craig's mother, told the BBC: "Because of my son's death, lives will be saved.

"It will bring about change. That's very important to me. My son's death just wasn't in vain."

Erin Pizzey, in tears after the verdict, said: "Keita will always be remembered by his family as loving and caring - someone who paid with his life for having a mental illness."

She said he should never have been in prison at all, and said there was a "complete failure" to look after him once he was there.


Too many people with severe mental illness have died in custody because of failings in the care available to them

Cliff Prior, NSF
She added: "At least now we know all about the failings in the Prison Service that led to my son's death.

"Now it is up to the Home Office and government to make sure that changes already under way are speeded up and properly funded."

Ms Pizzey criticised the inquest system, and said: "No family should have to go through what we have been through to get even this small taste of justice."

The National Schizophrenia Fellowship (NSF) said the verdict, meant prisons, police and hospitals had to recognise their responsibilities."

Cliff Prior, NSF chief executive said: "Too many people with severe mental illness have died in custody because of failings in the care available to them.

"Prison officers must have quality training while the health service must take responsibility for people who are ill.

"Government-backed changes are in the pipeline. They must be introduced without delay."

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