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Family hopes for answers at inquest into father-to-be’s death at HMP Bristol

Before Senior Coroner for Avon Maria Voisin
Avon Coroner’s Court, Old Weston Road, Bristol BS48 1UL
Opens May 15 - expected to last two weeks

The family of a father-to-be found hanged in his cell at HMP Bristol is hoping for answers at the inquest into his death, starting Monday.

Callum Smith, 27, from Cheltenham had recently begun suffering from paranoia and delusions was remanded in custody at HMP Bristol after allegedly making threats to commit criminal damage. He was discovered hanged in his cell six days later on March 2, 2016 and pronounced dead at the scene. 

The inquest will consider a number of issues including the adequacy of information provided to the prison by Gloucestershire Constabulary about Callum’s risk of self-harm and the implementation and adequacy of risk assessments and suicide prevention procedures at the prison.

Libby Smith, Callum’s partner said:
“Callum was a doting dad who was very excited about the birth of our second child, who he never got to meet. He had started struggling with mental illness and I was relieved when he was taken into custody as I thought there he would be safe from self-harm and get the help he needed to get better. He died before I got to visit him.
Our daughter, who is just four years old, really misses her daddy and doesn’t understand why he isn’t here anymore. I just want answers so that one day when our children are old enough I can explain what happened to him. If mistakes were made in Callum’s care then it’s important we find out what they were so that lessons can be learned and standards improved.”

Gus Silverman of Irwin Mitchell who represent the family said:
“Callum’s family is understandably anxious to understand whether his life could have been saved and hope that their questions will be answered at this inquest.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said:
“This is yet another example of a person with mental ill health ending up in the criminal justice system, with fatal consequences. Prison is not an appropriate place for those in mental health crisis.”

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Gus Silverman of Irwin Mitchell solicitors and Ifeanyi Odogwu of Garden Court Chambers.
ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS
For further information, please contact: Lucy Mckay on lucymckay@inquest.org.uk or 020 7263 1111
• Libby and Callum were partners but not married.
• The Joint Committee on Human Rights recently published an interim report on mental health and deaths in prison, including INQUEST’s recommendation on the need for an independent oversight mechanism to oversee the implementation of recommendations made following a self-inflicted death in prison. 
• Inquests exploring similar issues in prisons include those of Dean Saunders and Steven Davidson

INQUEST provides specialist advice on deaths in custody or detention or involving state failures in England and Wales. This includes a death in prison, in police custody or following police contact, in immigration detention or psychiatric care. INQUEST's policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths.

Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.

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