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Dad-murder charge man was attacked.

Byline: By Owen McAteer

Prison cell inquest told of assault

A suspected killer found dead in his cell had been attacked by another prisoner, an inquest has heard.

Maurice Cowen was in the segregation wing of Durham Prison after allegedly killing his father Douglas at the home they shared in Hambleton Street, Blyth.

A jury inquest in Chester-le-Street yesterday heard how Cowen, 30, had been assaulted while prison staff feared he was being bullied.

Fellow inmate William Bogie said: "Maurice was coping all right under the circumstances.

"I believe he was assaulted, something to do with music at 6am which woke the other lads up."

Prison officer Dave Bates, who saw Cowen when he arrived in the segregation wing, said: "He wanted to be off B-wing. There was no explanation why.

"I felt there could have been a bullying issue behind the reasons."

Mr Bates made it clear this was a personal theory and he never found any evidence of it.

Former squaddie Cowen was found hanging from sink taps in his cell at 7.30am on December 8, 2003.

The inquest was told that hours before he turned up dead, Cowen's medical records could not be found when a psychiatric nurse was called to look at him.

Nurse Keith Mitchell examined the heroin addict after he demanded to be moved to the jail's medical centre.

Mr Mitchell said: "He was sat on the bed, quite calm and appropriate, he didn't seem upset or aggressive. I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was all right.

"On that day I couldn't locate his medical records. It is not unusual, if you can imagine there are 600 prisoners in the prison and 600 sets of medical records that should be in a filing system but are spread out amongst rooms in the medical centre."

When asked if there was anything about Cowen that should have concerned him, Mr Mitchell replied: "Nothing at all from the way he was to me on that Sunday."

Previously the inquest heard how staff had been "negligent" in checking on Cowen. He should have been seen by prison workers an hour before his body was discovered.

Cowen's 53-year-old father was found with horrific injuries after he was apparently beaten by his son during a row in October 2003. He died in hospital three days later.

Cowen was originally on remand charged with wounding with intent, but was later charged with his father's murder.

The inquest continues.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 6, 2005
Previous Article:Fall woman's brain op.
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