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Murder accused choked himself to death at Winchester Prison
1:06pm Saturday 6th April 2013 in News
A MAN charged with murdering his wife choked himself to death while on remand in a Hampshire prison, an inquest heard.
Rory Morris, 53, was under “constant watch” and considered a risk to himself, but still choked in his cell at Winchester prison and was rushed to hospital. He died the next day.
Morris, from Ryde on the Isle of Wight, was accused of stabbing his wife Deborah to death last May believing she was having an affair.
Ian Black, a prison guard at Winchester for the past ten years, was guarding Morris’ cell the morning he choked on July 2 last year. Jurors heard the officer had a Sudoku puzzle book with him.
At the inquest in Winchester, deputy coroner for central Hampshire, Simon Burge, asked: “If you’re concentrating on the puzzle, how can you concentrate on what the prisoner is doing?”
Mr Black insisted he was not using it at the time Morris choked. “It was sat beside me and it was not in constant use,” he said.
“We’ve now changed our procedures and you will now literally sit and watch the whole time you are there and be moved at regular intervals,” he added.
Aware of risk Mr Black also said he had not conversed with the prisoner and that he was aware Morris was at high risk of harming himself.
The coroner asked Sue Stevenson, a mental health nurse at the prison: “Is it not vital that the person detailed to watch the prisoner is aware of that and does their best to strike up conversation with that person and do their best to interact? It’s common sense, isn’t it?”
Medical staff were questioned at length by Mr Morris’ daughter, Jodi Morris, who feels her father ought to have been transferred to a specialist mental facility.
Jurors heard he had a history of serious mental illness, but medical staff were unaware of the full extent because they did not request his previous medical notes.
Ms Stevenson said: “No records were requested for Rory Morris. That was an oversight. I cannot make an excuse. We just did not do it.”
At the end of a two-day hearing the jury were unanimous in recording a verdict of suicide.
It comes in the wake of a damning report following an inspection last October, which concluded that the category B jail has deteriorated and is now of “serious concern”.
The Morris family declined to comment after the inquest.
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