Dovegate inmate found dead after prison ‘unable to stop drug supply’

An inmate was found dead in his cell after a Staffordshire prison was ‘unable to stop the drug supply’, an inquest has heard.

Daley Thomas was found by staff at HMP Dovegate, near Uttoxeter on July 20 last year after taking the synthetic cannabinoid ‘Spice’.

The 27-year-old was serving an 11-and-a-half year sentence after admitting charges of kidnap, blackmail, supplying cocaine, and producing cannabis.

An inquest into his death has now concluded after the jury returned a verdict of ‘death by accident’.

But South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh told the hearing that Dovegate had failed to stop drugs coming in – and said improper staff training led to a delay in Thomas’ body being found, StaffordshireLive reports.

Summing up, Mr Haigh said: “Daley Thomas was a serving prisoner at HMP Dovegate and was found dead in his cell. He had been found to be taking illicit drugs.

“He was a regular drug user. The prison service was unable to stop the drug supply at Dovegate.

“Any steps which had been in place wasn’t preventing illicit drugs from reaching Daley Thomas. Daley Thomas chose not to engage with the integrated substance misuse team.

Latest cases from the courts in North Staffordshire

“Improper staff training regarding wellbeing checks and roll call procedure could have contributed to the delayed discovery of Daley Thomas.”

Thomas was 25 at the time he was jailed in 2018.

He was part of a trio who kidnapped a 25-year-old man from a property in Bath on June 13, 2017, over an unpaid drugs debt, forcing him into the boot of a car and driving the terrified man around the city.

Before its conclusion, the inquest heard Thomas was ‘known in the drug culture’ at Dovegate.

In the weeks leading up to his death, he told staff he had drug debts he could not pay.

He revealed he had weapons and said he would hurt someone if not moved to another wing.

He had told staff he was having ‘silly thoughts’, but had no intention of acting on them.

An ‘administration error’ meant he was not referred to the mental health team as planned.

HMP Dovegate near Uttoxeter

Four days before he died, he spoke to a prison doctor at his own request because he wanted to hurt someone and believed this was due to the stress of lockdown.

On July 19, checks were conducted by prison staff at 4.59pm, 8.03pm and at 5.07am.

There was a welfare check on his cell at 7.35am and he was seen lying face down on the floor but the staff member believed he was breathing as she could see his chest moving. She believed he was sleeping, the jury was told.

At 9.20am his cell door was opened and he was found. CPR was carried out but this was stopped at 9.30am.

A post-mortem examination later took place which found an injury to his lip due to falling but found there was no evidence of third party involvement. A toxicology test found ‘Spice’ in his system.

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