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Epileptic jail death caused by neglect

PUBLISHED: 11:57 09 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:55 25 August 2010

MEMORIES: Lomaculo and Kessie Moyo outside Southwark Coroners Court.

MEMORIES: Lomaculo and Kessie Moyo outside Southwark Coroners Court.

A SISTER said justice has finally been delivered after a jury returned a damning verdict in an inquest into her younger brother s death while in a category A prison. Godfrey Moyo, 25, who was on remand at Belmarsh prison in Thamesmead, died on January 3

A SISTER said justice has finally been delivered after a jury returned a damning verdict in an inquest into her younger brother's death while in a category A prison.

Godfrey Moyo, 25, who was on remand at Belmarsh prison in Thamesmead, died on January 3, 2005 after being restrained face-down on the floor by prison officers following an epileptic fit in his cell.

The jury at the 11-day inquest at Southwark Coroners Court returned a narrative verdict on Monday which said Mr Moyo died of positional asphyxia with left ventricular failure following restraint and epilepsy.

His oldest sister Lomaculo Moyo, 35, a general nurse, said: "It was really touching to see that the jury were able to point out exactly what happened and to see the omissions that all the staff did.

"Godfrey was not treated as a patient. It was clear that Godfrey was ill.

"According to the evidence, some prison officers realised that they were not doing the right thing. They were divided. Some prisoner officers, when they were asked what they would do differently if that happened again - they said nothing.

"There was no remorse at all.

"The whole system needs to treat prisoners as humans, without prejudices.

"The nurses have no excuses. A patient is a patient."

The jury's verdict said: "The first nurse on the scene failed to adequately monitor Mr Moyo's condition during the restraint, which contributed to his death by neglect.

"The prison officers also failed to recognise the signs of distress being shown by Mr Moyo.

"At no time during the restraint by any persons present was an attempt made to move Mr Moyo off his front as per the control and restraint guidelines or place him in the recovery position during periods of unconsciousness."

The unconscious prisoner was taken to an intensive care cell and left kneeling with his forehead resting on a mattress whilst a doctor prescribed him a sedative by phone.

Mr Moyo died around 30 minutes later.

The verdict said: "The second nurse failed to adequately monitor Mr Moyo's condition while he was in the intensive care cell, which directly contributed to Mr Moyo's death by neglect."

Coroner Andrew Walker will write a report to ministers about how similar deaths can be avoided.

Belmarsh governor Phil Wragg refused to comment but a Prison Service spokesperson said: "Like every death in custody, Godfrey Moyo's death is a tragedy.

"The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will now carefully consider the inquest findings and the coroner's report to see what lessons can be learned.

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