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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 15:00 GMT
UK rebuked over cell death
Christopher Edwards who was killed by his cellmate
Edwards - a "gentle" man who was kicked to death
A couple have won a seven-year campaign for justice after their mentally ill son was killed in a prison cell.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled the UK breached the Human Rights Convention on four counts following the death of "harmless, gentle" Christopher Edwards.

The 30-year-old was kicked and stamped to death by his schizophrenic cellmate, Richard Linford, at Chelmsford Prison in Essex in 1994.

Paul and Audrey Edwards claimed police, prison chiefs and doctors all failed in their duty to protect their son's life.

Thursday's ruling said the authorities neither protected the life of Mr Edwards, nor properly investigated his death.


Justice has been achieved for Christopher, for his family and, in the future, for all those in custody and their families

Paul and Audrey Edwards

It ruled that they also failed to give his family proper access to open and rigorous inquiries and a remedy in the courts.

The couple said: "Justice has been achieved for Christopher, for his family and, in the future, for all those in custody and their families.

"We are delighted at the judgement.

"The obligation is now on the government and on all the public agencies involved to see such a tragedy never occurs again."

It has been reported they received 20,000 compensation for their personal pain and suffering and 20,000 costs.

The couple want offenders with any kind of mental disorder to receive as a matter of course "appropriate medical treatment".

Inadequate

This, they said, should be given by skilled staff in a secure surrounding, "rather than be warehoused in the wholly unsuitable environment of a prison without adequate mental health care".

They also called for the families of victims to be given "greater respect" and a "thorough objective, independent and public investigation" as a right.

Richard Linford
Richard Linford beat Edwards to death

Mr Edwards, described as a harmless, gentle, academic who developed a mental health problem, was arrested for a minor breach of the peace in November 1994.

He was placed in a remand cell at Chelmsford Prison with Richard Linford, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Civil rights group Liberty took the Edwards family's case to the European courts on a number of points, including the duty of the authorities to protect life under the Human Rights Act.

An inquiry by the independent Police Complaints Authority had already criticised Essex Police for 15 separate failures surrounding the death.

It found that Essex Police officers had not properly assessed the risk posed by Linford and described the police response to the family's inquiries after his death as "totally inadequate".

Linford was sent to Rampton special hospital after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Edwards by reason of diminished responsibility.

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