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Prisoner Mark Scott died at HMP Rochester after taking a Spice-like psychoactive drug

By Katie May Nelson

A prisoner died after taking a fatal amount of a painkiller and abusing a Spice-like substance.

Mark Scott was found unresponsive by another prisoner at HMP Rochester, Fort Road, after his cell was unlocked.

An inquest into the 49-year-old's death on March 17, 2018, is currently being held at the Archbishop's Palace, Maidstone and is expected to last five days.

HMP Rochester, Fort Road, Rochester
HMP Rochester, Fort Road, Rochester

The jury heard how wheelchair-bound Mr Scott had been in the prison for just over a year.

He was residing in the prison's drug recovery wing, known as 'A' wing.

Mr Scott suffered from chronic pain as a result of a road traffic accident in July 2016, in which he was the driver of a vehicle which crashed into a tree.

The accident left him needing a total hip replacement.

He suffered multiple hip dislocations, and had a long-standing history of substance abuse.

In the weeks leading up to his death, Mr Scott had been the subject of several case reviews after he reported being in a low mood and having suicidal thoughts due to his chronic pain and at the prospect of being released in June 2018.

The coroner read evidence from Dr Guin Mijar, who carried out a review of Mr Scott's clinical care and death.

The evidence detailed how Mr Scott had been in the care of the prison's mental health team, and was also the subject of a document used by the prison to monitor prisoners in 'crisis', after being found unresponsive in an incident in February 2018.

At his last case review on March 13, staff reported that he was in a more positive mood and that he was having no thoughts of self harm.

A substance misuse practitioner was also advising him with his housing situation ahead of his release.

Giving evidence, Louisa Landridge, head of safer prisons at HMP Rochester, said how on the day of Mr Scott's death, the prison had been in lockdown between 12pm and 4pm.

She explained the staffing situation on the wing, and prisoner's access to medical professionals.

Archbishop’s Palace, Mill Street, Maidstone, ME15 6YE.Picture: Andy Jones.
Archbishop’s Palace, Mill Street, Maidstone, ME15 6YE.Picture: Andy Jones.

When it came time to unlock the cells at 4pm, another prisoner spotted Mr Scott laying on the floor through his door and alerted a prison guard who put out an emergency call onto the wing.

An ambulance was called and attempts were made at resuscitation, which were unsuccessful.

Pathologist Dr Dominic Chambers gave Mr Scott's cause of death as multiple drug toxicity and ischemic heart disease.

Toxicology reports showed that Mr Scott had two painkillers present in his blood, one of which was at a fatal level.

The results also presented a level of a 'new psychoactive substance' which was likened to Spice by Dr Chambers and coroner Patricia Harding.

Dr Chambers said he did not "know what that drug does" but went on to explain that the effect of such drugs can be similar to adrenaline, and that the combination of the drug and Mr Scott's heart disease would have contributed to his death.

The toxicology statement outline how little had been published about the drug, but it had been reported that 10 people in Japan had died after inhaling smoke from the substance.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure, which was supported by the coroner.

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