Changes made at prison after Sunderland dad-of-four took own life in custody

HMP Durham.
HMP Durham.

Changes have been made at a prison after a Sunderland dad with a history of alcohol misuse and depression took his own life while in custody, an inquest heard.

Self-employed Raymund Michael Mulligan was found hanging in his cell at HMP Durham on March 29 last year.

An inquest into his death held over four days at County Durham Coroner’s Court in Crook heard that Mr Mulligan, a 44-year-old dad-of-four who lived in Atkinson Buildings, Millfield, had tried to take his life in the weeks before his death prior to being taken into prison.

He was on recall to prison, rather than being a first time inmate,

The hearing was told Mr Mulligan’s marriage had broken down years previously and he began to misuse alcohol to “block out the pain”.

He had tried to take his own life on a number of occasions before he was sent to prison.

After being taken to prison, those assessing him said he told them he had an alcohol problem, but he did not have thoughts of self-harm at that particular time.

It was initially decided on his arrival at the facility that he should be checked on every 30 minutes following assessments.

He was checked on three times during the evening before his body was discovered.

Mr Mulligan’s body was discovered hanging in his cell by a prison officer on the morning of March 29, 2018.

His cell-mate was asleep at the time.

Prison staff decided not to attempt resuscitation on Mr Mulligan due to his lack of a pulse.

A post-mortem examination found that he had died from pressure to the neck caused by hanging.

Assistant coroner Tanyka Rawden, presiding over the case, instructed the jury: “You must not make any reference to any inadequacies, failings or missed opportunities by prison officers of the mental health team when you are coming to your conclusion.”

Following more than two hours of deliberations, the jury of five men and six women returned a conclusion of suicide in the case.

Before formally concluding the case Ms Rawden added that a number of recommendations had been implemented at the prison, which houses over 900 inmates, since Mr Mulligan’s death.

They included updating the Assessment Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) assessors course, which all relevant staff have now been on, a new screening wall is now part of the reception process and a new form is completed which follows the prisoner during their time at the facility.”

Following the conclusion of the case Mr Mulligan’s brother Christopher, 41, said: “We as a family do not think he should have been in prison.

“At the time he was arrested, he was on 24-hour watch because of his mental health.

“The prison staff have decided to check on him every 30 minutes because of the way he was at that time and I think they took his word for it.

“But he could be very convincing.”