Inquest into the death of Michael Cook, who died at HMP Elmley, starts Monday 9 May 2016

Mid Kent and Medway Coroner’s Court
Archbishops Palace, Mill Street, Maidstone, ME15 6YE

Before Assistant Coroner Ian Wade QC

40 year old Michael Cook, from London, was found hanging in his cell in HMP Elmley on 22 March 2014. The inquest into his death will be heard before a jury at Mid Kent and Medway Coroner’s court from 9 May. The hearing is due to last three weeks.

Michael was a vulnerable man with a long history of substance misuse, physical and mental health problems. He was released on licence on 28th February 2014. His licence was revoked 7 days later and he was returned to HMP Elmley on 10 March 2014.

The reason for his recall will be explored at the inquest. Formal notification was not given to Michael as it should have been. Michael constantly asked the authorities for the reasons for his recall, as he believed he should not have been returned to prison.

On arrival at reception he was referred to the mental health team due to his history of depression, anxiety and previous self-harm and suicide attempt whilst in prison.
The Inquest will hear that at about 09.15 on 22 March an officer unlocked Michael’s cell. Michael’s former cell mate went into the cell at about 09.40 and found Michael hanging from the top bunk bed by a torn bed sheet. Staff were informed. Despite attempts Michael could not be resuscitated.

The Inquest will explore and address serious questions and concerns about Michael’s recall to prison and the care and treatment Michael received while at HMP Elmley, including:

  • The adequacy of the prison and probation’s response and management of Michael’s risks and mental health needs;
  • The apparent failure by the prison to pass the reasons for Michael’s recall to him.;
  • The adequacy of the emergency response

Michael’s family (his Aunt) is represented at the inquest by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton from Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and barrister Alison Gerry from Doughty Street chambers.

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