Entries in Prison Deaths (2)
March 11 2004, Full Sutton prison near York. Arif Hussain in a segregated unit is pronounced dead at 8am. For hours the night before he had screamed in agony and no one went to help.
Dean Lowe and Kevin Nevers were witnesses, Lowe in a cell opposite Arif's. Lowe said, 'I would describe the noise as being a cross between vomiting and growling or crying'. He says the cries were 'ignored by night staff'. Nevers claims that Arif was beaten by half a dozen prison officers two days before his death and on the night preceding his death Arif begged staff for help and complained of an inability to see.
Before the police arrived to investigate, inmates claim prison staff emptied the cell opposite to Arif's of its occupier(s), filled it with furniture and locked it. Inmates claim this was in an effort to make the cell appear unused and hence police would not ask speak to the witnesses in that cell as they would assume there had been none.
Following the death, incensed inmates protested and smashed up their cells. Some, including Lowe were moved to other jails.
The inquest the following year concluded the death was accidental- overdose of heroin he had taken a week before. The prison knew he had ingested a parcel and waited for him to give it up for a week. Arif, mentally ill and an addict said he would if were given tobacco. The staff ignored his cries that night but kept a log of his activities; here are some:
‘Hussain is a total pain in the arse’. ‘There is something seriously wrong with this individual, everyone getting on at him. Could be an interesting day.’ ‘Hussain at it again. Lots of unhappy teddy bears.’
An officer claimed he had checked on Arif 5 times that night. The CCTV footage showed that he had not, not once.
Professor Alexander Forrest, forensic toxicologist, said that that if six hours before his death Arif had been in hospital he would, ‘Have been more, rather than less, likely to have survived.’
Here's what really gets to me:
30 prisoners volunteered to be witnesses. Only 4 were brought along and even those 4 did not include Dean Lowe and Kevin Nevers, Kevin who would have said that staff had repeatedly taunted Arif during his last days, calling him a ‘fat Paki’ and ‘a terrorist’ and Lowe who had by then been released and was willing to travel to the inquest. As such there was no detailed examination of witnesses' evidence.
To make matters worse the family were unaware of the support organisation Inquest(they find solicitors and barristers familiar with inquests) and requested Arif's criminal lawyer to represent them. The criminal lawyer then briefed a barrister who had little experience of the prison system. He didn't ask searching questions and chose not to speak with the 4 prison witnesses before they gave evidence!
Accidental death- wait a week for a bag of heroin to work through a mentally ill prisoner's system while he keeps other inmates awake with his shouts for nights and call it accidental when he dies.
She may be free now, released back to her luxurious paradise away from incarceration but she still won't be able to meet Shahid Aziz. Shahid was killed three years ago by his cellmate, Peter McCann, even though staff had been warned McCAnn was dangerous.
Do you know how they satisfied themselves of McCann's danger or lack of?
They asked him.
Yeah. They asked him.
He said No, he wasn't.
So they put him in a cell with Shahid and within hours McCann had slit Shahid's throat with a razor blade mounted on a plastic toothbrush, then strangled him with shoelaces and battered him over the head with a chair to "finish him off".
The prison had been at the receiving end of racism allegations; the Asian inmates had protested in the past and they were led by one Shahid Aziz.
Shahid had complained to a race-relations officer asking to speak with one and her response was, 'You are looking at one. Go away, not interested.'
The day before his death a probation officer warned prison staff McCann was so dangerous he was a risk to inmates. They did nothing with the information.
After Shahid's death, they took their time informing his family. The family has not yet had an apology.
Were they racist? Negligent?
Let's ask McCann.