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Following the latest statistics on prison deaths in England, Ali Cloak considers the alarming findings and explores the inequality of funding for families in prison inquests.
Sadly the number of deaths in prison have been higher in the last six years than they have been since the 1970s. Deaths in prison can be particularly devastating for families as they are often given little, if any, information about the circumstances of how their loved one died. They may then be left with lots of unanswered questions about how their loved one came by their death when they were supposed to be under the care of the state and in a safe place.
Dad-of-two Lenny McCourt died after falling ill following his arrest, having been sprayed with an incapacitant, handcuffed, and transported in the back of a police van from his home in Ash Crescent, Seaham, to cells in Peterlee.
An inquest into his death was told the 44-year-old most likely died after suffering heart failure, yet it took five minutes after arriving at Peterlee to remove his cuffs and efforts started to revive him – and Coroner Andrew Tweddle ruled officers failed to provide adequate first aid.
At that hearing, his sister-in-law Tracey McCourt represented the family, after they were told they were not entitled to any legal support in the wake of Lenny’s death in September 2010.