A REMAND prisoner who died in a fire in his cell has been named by police.

Anthony Michael Mola died in hospital on Wednesday afternoon following a fire in his cell at Durham Prison earlier in the day.

Mr Mola's death prompted campaigners to call for a change in the way vulnerable people facing court are dealt with.

The 23-year-old, from Gateshead, had arrived in the prison on remand two days earlier and was being held in a single-person cell on the prison's segregation unit.

The fire broke out at 7am and prison staff, who had been alerted by a smoke alarm, helped Mr Mola from his cell and then joined fire crews in attempting to revive the injured man.

He was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham City, and placed on a ventilator, but died at about 2.45pm.

A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday afternoon and last night the Home Office confirmed that he had died from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Mr Mola had been remanded in custody from Gateshead Magistrates' Court on Monday, facing charges of making threats to kill and possession of an offensive weapon.

It is understood that he had been considered at high risk of self-harm and was on suicide watch.

Although the death is not believed to be suspicious, a police investigation is now under way to determine how the fire started.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The circumstances of the fire are subject to a police investigation and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further."

Durham Prison, which has the capacity to hold almost 750 inmates and has a population of about 650, has seen one of the country's highest number of suicides in recent years.

In 2002-03, there were seven suicides at Durham - the highest number of any prison in the country - while in 2003-04, there were four, the second worst figure in the country behind Nottingham.

Mr Mola was the 13th death in custody since the beginning of this month.

Speaking yesterday, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "This catalogue of deaths must act as a terrible warning to the courts to avoid custody for those who are vulnerable or mentally ill and a stark wake- up call to the Government to act now to improve court diversion, bail provision and treatment options and, at long last, to end prison overcrowding.