Inquest Into Death Of Nigerian Student in Durham Prison- Officers Didn’t Deem Him A Suicide Risk

An inquest has heard that a Nigerian Student Boniface Umale, was found in his room with a noose around his neck, months before he committed suicide.

Mr Umale who was a student of Northumbria University had been in prison awaiting a verdict over rape and assault charges since October 2012.

He was found hanged in his cell on the 24th of March 2013, a day before he was due to hear the verdict of his trial for rape and three counts of sexual assault.

Mr Umale who was said to be a devout catholic who attended church every Sunday was found hours before he was due to give a reading at the Chapel’s Palm Sunday Service.

Durham prison Chaplain, Ernesto Robertson said, while looking through the observation panel, he saw Mr Umale in his room in December 2012 with a noose around his neck.

According to the Northern Echo, Father Robertson told County Durham deputy coroner Crispin Oliver: “I shouted ‘what are you doing’ and called for help.”

It is reported that prison Officer Barry Hindson then opened the door promptly even though he did not know exactly why the father had called for help.

The incidence wasn’t reported to mental health authorities because the Father hadn’t elaborated on what he thought he saw and the incident was dismissed as false alarm with Mr Umale denying he had a ligature around his neck.

He had been receiving low level support from the psychiatric nurse Anthony Rose as he wasn’t thought to be a suicide risk.

Although it was recorded in medical reports that Mr Umale  was feeling low in October, this was attributed to the fact that he was new in prison and he was discharged in 2013 after showing improvements in his mood.

Mr Rose said that had he been made aware of the incident in the chaplain’s reports, he would have assessed Mr Umale differently.

The inquest is scheduled to last until Friday 21st March.


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