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Prisoner death inquest

PUBLISHED: 14:11 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:52 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 PRISON officers admitted restraining a sick prisoner who was having fits hours before he died.

EXCLUSIVE

PRISON officers admitted restraining a sick prisoner who was having fits hours before he died.

Godfrey Moyo,25, died after he was restrained for up to half an hour by prison officers at Belmarsh Prison in Thamesmead after he had suffered from a series of fits in his cell, jurors at Southwark Coroners Court heard.

A reporting restriction on the reason why he was on remand was imposed by the coroner, Andrew Walker.

The inquest, which is scheduled to last ten days, opened on Monday, four years after Zimbabwe-born Moyo's death on January 3, 2005.

The jury heard how the prisoner at the Category A prison had a history of fitting.

His mother Kessie Moyo, 59, who had flown to London from Zimbabwe was sitting in the public gallery alongside her 35-year-old daughter Lomaculo.

The court heard officers saw Mr Moyo fitting in his cell and "pummelling" his cell mate before he was removed and restrained face down on the floor for up to 30 minutes.

Prison officer Leonora Pain told the inquest on Tuesday that she could see Moyo lying on the floor of his cell, shaking, with saliva and blood around the mouth.

She said: "He was shaking so violently. He was banging his head on the floor and we asked his cellmate to put a pillow under his head. Moyo sprang up off the floor his eyes were very wide and he started speaking in a foreign language.

I would have to say it was gibberish.

"He was flexing his muscles and fists and was facing his cellmate.

"He ran across the room and pummelled him around the head. He wasn't saying anything. I was behind him trying to grab his forehead. I didn't have him around the neck. We were struggling on the floor with Mr Moyo on the landing. I was holding his right shoulder. My shoulder was on his shoulder. Someone said lock on handcuffs and I was relieved of my position. My knees were either side of his forehead with my finger on his chin. He was being violent and struggling against us. Every part of his body that he could move, he was moving. I remember him saying 'the pain, oh the pain'."

When asked by the coroner what she did about the pain, she replied: "I'm not a medical Sir".

The family's barrister Leslie Thomas asked Ms Pain if she asked Moyo whereabouts the pain was. She said: "No, but he didn't elaborate."

She also said she did not check the handcuffs, but said she believed there were people who did. When they moved him Ms Pain said "there were several instances where he struggled".

She said: "We stopped and let him have his seizure or whatever it was. I don't know if it was a fit but it was some sort of struggling."

He was then carried lengthways to the medical block where he was put in the kneeling position with his forehead resting on a mattress upon a stone plinth and his backside injected with a drug.

Ms Pain claimed they took it in 30 minute turns to check up on him, by looking through the hatch on the door.

She said: "I saw him breathing and his hand moved. It twitched."

The inquest continues.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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