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Prison ombudsman highlights concerns following death of pervert in jail aged 80

The family of a sex offender suffered unnecessary and preventable distress after his death in prison, an investigation has found.

Sunday, 24th July 2022, 2:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th July 2022, 2:00 pm

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Wotton, previously of Park Lane, Murton, had also been jailed for a string of similar offences in 2014.

He died at HMP Durham on May 25, 2021 of colon cancer.

Ronald Wotton attending court in 2014 when he was jailed for five years for abusing school pupils. Photo: Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire.

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An investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman service made a number of recommendations after several concerns arising from Wotton’s death.

They included there being no prison staff available to escort him to hospital a week earlier for urgent treatment for suspected sepsis.

The prison also failed inform the coroner of Wotton’s death until a week later on June 1 after the police refused to attend.

Wotton’s family had to identify his body 15 days after he died meaning his funeral was delayed.

HMP Durham.

A report by Elizabeth Moody, Deputy Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, stated: “This caused Mr Wotton’s family unnecessary and preventable distress."

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There was also poor communication between the prison and Wotton’s family when the prison’s family liaison officer went on leave for five days.

The report added: “This meant that there was a period of around two weeks when the next of kin had difficulty contacting anyone at the prison for support and advice.”

Ms Moody added she was “particularly frustrated and disappointed” about another case of the inappropriate use of restraints.

Despite his age and poor mobility, Wotton was kept in restraints for six days when he was taken to hospital on May 13.

Recommendations of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman include that the governor should ensure there are sufficient staff to escort prisoners who need to go to hospital urgently and say what further steps will be taken to ensure ill prisoners with poor mobility are not inappropriately restrained.

The Governor should also ensure that contingency plans include instructions on how to inform the coroner of a death in the absence of the police.

And a deputy family liaison officer should also be appointed and all contact with a next of kin recorded in the absence of the designated officer.

An action plan in response states these have now all been completed.