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DEATH PRISON CLAIMS SIXTH SUICIDE VICTIM; 'High-risk' teenager found hanged.

Byline: BRENDON WILLIAMS

A TOP-LEVEL probe was launched yesterday after a suicide-prone prisoner became the SIXTH inmate to kill himself at a scandal-ridden jail.

Adrian Spear, 18, was a known suicide risk - but still managed to hang himself in his cell at controversial Parc prison in Bridgend, south Wales.

Teenager Adrian is the sixth person to take his life at Wales's only privately-run prison since it opened in 1997.

Identified as a high-risk prisoner, he was supposed to be watched at regular intervals.

But somehow he managed to take his own life, and was discovered later by prison staff as they made routine checks.

Police have been informed of the latest death and prison chiefs are calling in a governor from another jail to supervise an internal investigation.

The death comes just 18 months after the prison was blasted in a secret Home Office report, which found its "suicide awareness" was unacceptable.

The shocking report revealed five inmates took their own lives before the prison was even two years old.

And the prison itself admitted yesterday there was deep cause for concern after the sixth victim was discovered.

Prison spokeswoman Alison Williams said: "This is the sixth death at the prison.

"Of course we're concerned. But how and why it happened will be a matter for an investigation or an inquest."

She added: "We have got strict procedures for people who are at risk of self-harm.

"He was identified as a suicide risk. I cannot go into details of how often he was watched, because that will form part of the investigation."

News of Adrian's death came just hours before Home Secretary Jack Straw announced a three-year strategy to reduce the number of suicides in jails, which includes keeping a closer eye on high-risk prisoners.

Prison governor Roy Woolford was unavailable for comment yesterday.

But a spokesman for the Prison Service said: "This will be investigated, led by a governor from an outside prison who is specially trained in this type of thing."

Adrian, from Penarth, south Wales, was three months into a 14-month sentence for common assault, actual bodily harm and handling stolen goods.

Prison staff battled in vain with paramedics to try to resuscitate the teenager, but he was pronounced dead at hospital an hour later.

Staff who made the grim discovery were offered counselling from specially trained staff.

The prison spokeswoman confirmed police, the Prison Service and the coroner had been informed.

She added: "We can confirm that Adrian Paul Spear was found hanging in his cell.

"Staff immediately attempted to resuscitate Mr Spear and paramedics were quickly on the scene.

"Mr Spear's next of kin have been informed and our thoughts are with the family at this time.

"This is a tragedy which has also left staff at the prison extremely distressed."

CAPTION(S):

INVESTIGATION: Parc prison chief Roy Woolford
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 6, 2001
Words:474
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