PRISON health workers failed to notice a Nigerian student did not collect a prescription for anti-depressants months before he was found hanged in his cell, an inquest has heard.
Boniface Umale was prescribed 28 days worth of Sertraline by HMP Durham GP Dr Christopher Moll in October 2012, after complaining of feeling depressed and struggling to sleep or eat.
But the 38-year-old former Northumbria University student never collected his prescription from the pharmacy on the prison’s F Wing and in January 2013 was discharged from the low level support he was receiving from the mental health team due to his improved mood.
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Mr Umale, who was being kept at the prison while being tried for rape and sexual assault, was found dead in the toilet area of cell F217 by prison staff at about 5am on Sunday, March 24, last year, with his cell mate asleep a few feet away.
During the second day of Mr Umale’s inquest, County Durham deputy coroner Crispin Oliver said there was a failure of communication between doctors, nurses and metal health workers over the uncollected prescription.
Dr Moll said uncollected prescriptions are returned to the main pharmacy unit where enquiries would normally be made about the left over drugs.
Those enquiries did not take place in Mr Umale’s case, the inquest heard, and as Mr Umale himself did not raise any concerns and never made a follow up appointment with the doctor, the issue was never investigated.
Mr Oliver said: “It did not cause anybody any disquiet that this prescription was not picked up, at no point did anybody have a conversation with Mr Umale about it.”
The deputy coroner added that, given the low dosage and moderate nature of the diagnosed depression, the drugs may not have made any impact on Mr Umale’s mental health.
Psychiatric nurse Tony Rose previously told the inquest that Mr Umale was not deemed a suicide or self harm risk.
In December last year, Catholic chaplain Ernesto Robertson claimed to see Mr Umale with a noose around his neck in his cell but the report was never passed on to the mental health team.
The inquest being held in Crook Civic Centre will continue tomorrow (March 19).