A PRISONER who was found hanged in his cell was in real fear for his own safety, a jury was told.

John Derek Collins was discovered by his then cell mate on the morning of October 27, 2016 in HMP Durham.

The 29-year-old, who was being held on remand, had self-harmed on two occasions during the weeks leading up to his death.

The first incident led to prison staff opening an ACCT document (assessment, care in custody and teamwork) which highlighted Mr Collins as being at risk of self-harm or suicide.

Prisoners subject to an ACCT are observed more often by staff, initially in Mr Collins’ case hourly, and reviews are held with the prisoner regularly to discuss progress and offer support.

However, following three case reviews, one in which there was no mental health representative, the ACCT was closed on October 21, six days before Mr Collins took his own life.

During a week-long inquest at Crook Civic Centre which started on Monday, a jury concluded that the closure of the ACCT on October 21 was, “appropriate given Mr Collins’ input, his reluctance for the designation to continue and the apparent improvement in his mental health state”.

The inquest heard how the 29-year-old, who was suffering from alcohol withdrawal during his time at HMP Durham, was attacked by his cell mate with a flask when he was asleep one night, leaving him with a black eye and a wound to his head.

It is understood that Mr Collins was in debt to another prisoner and that he was fearful for his safety following the attack.

He expressed his concerns to staff and asked to move wings within the prison, and on one occasion slid a note under his door explaining that he was in fear for his safety.

The jury stated that it was, “concerned about some of the aspects of Mr Collins’ care whilst at HMP Durham, but did not believe these concerns caused or contributed to his death”.

The jury also raised concerns in connection with “deficiencies in the system of review” in that at the time there was no designated case manager or continuity of input.

Concerns were also raised regarding the apparent workload and pressure placed upon the mental health team working at HMP Durham.

The jury concluded that Mr Collins died from the effects of hanging himself, but found that “it cannot be established on the balance of probabilities whether or not he intended the consequences”.

Adding: “We do not find that his death was caused or contributed to by any treatment which he received or failed to receive at the hands of the prison authorities.”

Wendy Collins, Mr Collins’ mother, described her son as a caring man who she had a good relationship with whilst giving evidence during the inquest.

She said that Mr Collins had been in debt with loan sharks before and had never said to her that he was worried for his life whilst in HMP Durham, but added that he would not have wanted her to worry.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Collins said: “Firstly, we would like to thank the coroner for the way he has conducted the inquest and for the professionalism and consideration shown to the family by all of the legal representatives and other staff involved in the inquest.

“Although a tragic event from more than two years ago now, the family are satisfied having sat through the inquest, that measures have now been put in place at HMP Durham that would hopefully prevent such a tragedy in the future.”