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Dead inmate a smashing lad'

PUBLISHED: 16:36 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:53 25 August 2010

FOUR YEAR WAIT: Godfrey's mother Kessie Moyo, 59, on the right, who had flown to London from Zimbabwe and her 35-year-old daughter Lomaculo.

FOUR YEAR WAIT: Godfrey's mother Kessie Moyo, 59, on the right, who had flown to London from Zimbabwe and her 35-year-old daughter Lomaculo.

EXCLUSIVE THE family of a young prisoner who died after being restrained following an epileptic fit wept as a guard described him as a smashing lad .

EXCLUSIVE

THE family of a young prisoner who died after being restrained following an epileptic fit wept as a guard described him as "a smashing lad".

Godfrey Moyo, 25, who was on remand at Belmarsh prison in Thamesmead died hours after he was restrained face-down on the floor outside his cell for up to half an hour by prison officers, Southwark Coroners Court heard.

The jury at the ten-day inquest into Zimbabwe-born Moyo's death on January 3 2005 are due to return a verdict on Friday (3).

Last Friday his mother Kessie Moyo, 59 and her daughter Lomaculo Moyo, 35 wept as former prison officer Sandy Topley told the jury about another fit he had whilst at Belmarsh.

Mrs Topley said he "begged" the governor to apologise to the guard he had struck on his behalf.

She said: "He punched another officer and afterwards he was horrified.

"He just wasn't like that. That was how I knew he had an epileptic fit. He was a smashing lad, he really was. He always said hello and smiled. He had an open and honest face. He was just a smashing kid.

"He didn't know what he was doing. I think that was made clear. He didn't mean to punch anyone. He was just ill. When he heard about it, he was just horrified. It wasn't his fault."

Mrs Topley said she had seen people with epileptic fits in prison before but she had no experience of them being put in the prone position.

She said: "If they were on the floor I would just get down. Last time I remember it was a prisoner on a bunk bed. I just held him to make sure he didn't fall out of the bed."

Mrs Topley described how she was the first officer to go to Mr Moyo's cell after his cellmate raised the alarm whilst he was fitting.

She said: "Moyo was lying on the floor.

"He was having an epileptic fit.

"He was rocking backwards and forwards very violently.

"I ran back to the office and the first thing I did was ring the healthcare.

"I said he has had epileptic fits before.

"He questioned me whether I knew what I was talking about. I said I am pretty sure he has had some fits before so he is going to need medical attention.

"We weren't putting any pressure on his chest at all. So that he was propped up by his shoulder and the pillow helped.

"The whole attitude was of looking after the lad.

"I would happily grass anyone up. I have no problem doing that."

Last Friday the jury also heard from prison officers James Bicker and Bob Vaughan who both said they would not have not done anything different in the incident.

Coroner Andrew Walker prevented the charge Mr Moyo was on remand for from being reported.

The inquest continues.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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