Warders battled to save life of Islington prisoner found hanged in cell
16:56 30 July 2012
Two prison warders battled to save the life of an inmate who died days after being admitted to Pentonville Prison, an inquest was told.
Lee Blackwell, 29, was found hanged in his cell in the jail in Caledonian Road, Holloway, in May last year, four days after being taken into custody on remand for rape, grievous bodily harm, attempted rape, and assault.
Prison officer Stuart Singer told St Pancras Coroner’s Court last Wednesday that he discovered Mr Blackwell dead in his cell just after midnight on May 15 and raised the emergency alarm.
He was joined by senior officer Christopher Mostyn and the pair tried to save the prisoner’s life.
Mr Singer said: “We moved him onto the floor. I was doing CPR while my colleague was doing mouth to mouth.
“I didn’t know if he was already dead. He was a different colour. But when we did the CPR I saw some air escaping and I thought he might still be alive, but that wasn’t the case.”
Mr Blackwell, who used to live with his mother in Gospel Oak, was pronounced dead an hour later. He had been released from The Mount prison in Lancashire just two days before his arrest on May 8.
He was taken into Pentonville Prison on remand on May 10 and given a cell on his own in the segregation unit because of the severity of the charges.
Mr Blackwell had previously told staff at The Mount that he felt depressed and sometimes thought he would be better off dead, the inquest heard.
But two nurses and two doctors at Pentonville did not have access to these records.
Richard Palmer, senior prisoner officer at Pentonville, said he had asked himself “so many times” if he could have done anything to prevent Blackwell’s death. He said: “There was nothing in his behaviour that I could see.”
The jury returned a narrative verdict which said Mr Blackwell took his own life but added that his intentions to take his own life were unclear.