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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 16:45 GMT
Mother's fight for prison changes
Sarah Campbell
Sarah Campbell died the day after being jailed
Sarah Campbell, formerly heroin dependent, who suffered from clinical depression, was jailed for manslaughter in January 2003 - a day later she was dead.

An inquest has yet to be held, but the 18-year-old apparently died after taking an overdose of prescription drugs at Styal Prison in Cheshire.

Her mother, Pauline, has been calling for Prison Service changes ever since.

She has welcomed the chief inspector of prisons' report calling for women such as Sarah to be sent to secure units.

"My daughter should have been sent to a secure hospital, not to a jail - and if that had happened, I think it's very likely she would still be alive," Mrs Campbell, a 56-year-old retired teacher, said.

Sarah was in a state of terror about going back to Styal Prison. I think it was a cry for help
Pauline Campbell

Sarah fell into two of the categories which prisons inspector Anne Owers believes put prisoners most at risk of self harm and suicide.

It was the start of her sentence and she suffered from a mental illness. Her mother says she had been drug-free for eight months.

But she was sent to Styal Prison for three years after being convicted of the manslaughter of ex-serviceman Amrit Bhandari in Chester city centre.

Mr Bhandari suffered a heart attack and died after Sarah and another woman, Kim Woolley, 31, from Fazakerley in Liverpool, accosted him in Chester city centre.

The court heard Mr Bhandari, who had a heart condition, died of fright after Woolley accused him of rape.

'Marked deterioration'

Mrs Campbell, of Malpas, Cheshire, said: "Sarah had spent six months on remand at Styal, and was in a state of terror about going back there."

During Sarah's time on remand at Styal from May to November 2002, Mrs Campbell says she visited her daughter every other day and also received letters from her. Sarah was her only child.

Styal prison
Sarah spent six months on remand at Styal Prison
"Every time I visited I saw a marked deterioration in her mental and physical state. She didn't receive the care she needed to treat her addiction and she was kept locked in her cell for 23 hours a day," Mrs Campbell recalled.

She blames the overcrowding, understaffing and under funding of the prison service.

"I am appalled by what I have found out about the Prison Service since Sarah's death.

"I can never be a grandmother now and I will be fighting for changes for the rest of my days," Mrs Campbell added.

The Prison Service said an investigation was under way into deaths at Styal Prison and that it could not comment on individual cases or allegations while the inquiry was ongoing.

The jail was in the process of redesigning the remand wing and was getting 200,000 extra funding to recruit more staff for it, a spokesman added.

Sarah's mother says her daughter was in the segregation block of the prison for her own protection at the time of her death, not on the remand wing.

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20 Jan 04  |  Politics
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06 Jan 04  |  Politics
Women's prisons reform demand
15 Oct 03  |  Wales
Teenage prisoner dies in hospital
21 Jan 03  |  England

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