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Sheppey prisoner James Devenny thought there was a £300k 'hit' on him before death in cell

A prisoner who claimed there was a £300,000 hit on him while in custody was found hanged in his cell, an inquest has heard.

James Devenny died at HMP Elmley on the Isle of Sheppey on September 2, 2019, after “days of acting strangely”.

James Devenny died at HMP Elmley in Eastchurch in 2019
James Devenny died at HMP Elmley in Eastchurch in 2019

The 34-year-old was living in house block two of the Eastchurch site before his death.

A week long inquest started in Maidstone, on Monday and explained how Devenny’s cause of death was given as hanging.

Coroner Ian Brownhill invited HMP Elmley guard Aston Croall to give evidence about the day of Devenny’s death.

Mr Croall explained he had been in the house block office at around 3.30pm when another officer, Mr Ellis, came in to tell the other officers that Devenny had blocked the observation panel of his cell, which allows guards to see inside.

Mr Croall and Mr Ellis, along with a couple more officers, headed to Devenny’s cell.

'He said there was a £300,000 hit out on him...'

Mr Croall detailed how when they tried to open the door it wouldn’t open properly and was stuck on something behind the door.

They found Devenny hanged and got him don, but he had died.

Father Gary Dyer, of the prison chaplaincy, heard how he had met with Devenny in August where the inmate had written down on a note that he was “under threat from staff and there was a £300,000 hit out on him”.

Fr Dyer said he tried to question the inmate about this but he became angry, standing up and walking around.

He added: “He was very paranoid. I asked him if he was self-harming or thought about it. He said no.”

Trudy Taylor of Integrated Care 24 service, said Devenney was on anti-depressants but there were no concerns about his mental health.

The inquest continues.

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