The mother of a prisoner found hanged in a segregation cell warned officers of her son’s mental state after noticing marks on his neck days before he died, an inquest heard.
Caroline Bailey contacted prison staff after her son, Michael Bailey, admitted to her he had been harming himself at HMP Rye Hill, near Rugby.
Mrs Bailey told the inquest in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, her son’s behaviour during the visit on March 22, 2005 was “not right”.
She said he looked unkempt, was reciting hymns and had stab marks on his hands and scabs around his neck.
Mrs Bailey told the jury she informed a female prison officer about the marks.
She said: “I thought she would deal with it, either pass it on or go and check for herself, not just leave it. I was worried, very worried. I was very scared – I did not know what was happening and I had not seen anything like this before with Michael or anybody.”
Two days later, the 23-year-old, from Ladywood, Birmingham, was found hanging in the segregation unit at the privately-run prison.
Mrs Bailey told the jury she first became concerned about her son on March 17 when she received a distressed telephone call from him.
She said she tried to express her concerns to the prison during telephone calls in the days following.
The inquest heard Bailey suddenly changed from being a fit, confident and articulate young man to being subdued and quiet in the days prior to his death.
He was placed on suicide watch after “strange” behaviour – including taking his clothes off in the exercise yard, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and mumbling.
Tom Osborne, assistant deputy coroner for Northamptonshire, said: “Over a few days beginning on March 18, 2005 through to March 24, he went from being a fit young man looking forward to being reunited with his family to a man who had become anguished, confused and, at times, violent.”
Mr Osborne told the jury during the inquest, expected to last up to six weeks, they should consider if the prison authorities took “reasonable steps” to prevent Bailey from taking his life.
In the month after the death, Rye Hill was criticised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, who found the prison had deteriorated to the extent it “was at that time an unsafe and unstable environment, both for prisoners and staff”.
A police investigation was carried out after Bailey’s death and charges were brought against four prison officers. All four were cleared by a judge at Northampton Crown Court in April 2007.
Bailey was serving a four-year sentence at the prison when he died.
He would have been eligible for parole in November 2005 and due for release in 2006.