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Convicted murderer Simon Benson hanged in cell at Maidstone Prison after row over gluten-free food

19 July 2013
by Angela Cole

The gates of Maidstone Prison, in County Road

The gates of Maidstone Prison, in County Road

A convicted murderer was found hanged in his Maidstone Prison cell after his demand for gluten-free meals was rejected, it has emerged.

Jewish Simon Benson, who stabbed a man to death, was given kosher food when he was transferred to the town centre jail two months ago - but insisted his meals should also be gluten-free.

The prison refused to comment on reports claiming Benson's request was denied because he had not undergone sufficient tests to justify giving him special meals.

Benson was found suspended in his room at around 7.30am last Wednesday.

He was rushed to Maidstone Hospital, but at around 9.10pm doctors decided with his family that his life support machine had to be switched off.

A Prison Service spokesman said: "As with all deaths in custody, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation."

An inquest was opened and adjourned into his death on Monday. The medical cause of death was given as suspension.

A prison spokesman would not comment on reports Benson had been on hunger strike.

It is also believed he had a history of self-harm.

Exterior of Maidstone Prison

Maidstone Prison

The joint British and Israeli national had served 11 years of his sentence and intended to return to live in Israel when he was released.

Maidstone prison is in the process of changing its population from a mix of sex offenders and foreign nationals, to 100% non-British.

There are 600 inmates and around 40% were foreigners at the time of the change announcement, which is expected to take several months.

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