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Prison criticised after man killed cellmate.

Byline: Robin Turner Reporter

CARDIFF Prison has been criticised in an ombudsman's report for not properly assessing the mental state of a prisoner who murdered his cellmate by strangling and stabbing him 100 times with a pen.

Colin Capp, 23 at the time of the attack in March 2014, was jailed for life last May for the brutal murder of Darren Thomas, 45.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Capp, in jail for arson, showed "no remorse" as he repeatedly stabbed Thomas with the makeshift weapon.

Homeless Thomas, in jail for begging in Cardiff city centre, was the fourth inmate to share with Capp - and three earlier cellmates asked to be moved due to his "paranoid behaviour".

A report released yesterday by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen said chances to properly assess Capp's mental state were missed.

He said: "On February 7, 2014, a nurse referred Mr Capp for a mental health assessment because he had been identified as at risk of suicide and selfharm and he had previous contact with the mental health team. Despite the referral on February 7, Mr Capp had not had a formal mental health assessment, by the time of Mr Thomas' death, one month later."

The report added: "Mr Capp had made a number of threats of violence at hospital and reported sadistic fantasies. His mental health record since 2012, including reports by several psychiatrists, was known to healthcare staff at Cardiff but not to officers.

A multidisciplinary review might have identi-fied concerns about his risk of violence to cellmates."

The ombudsman added: "A nurse and an officer did not identify Mr Capp's risk of suicide and self-harm in reception, although this was recognised later that evening. "Mr Capp had a high number of risk factors, which should have been spotted and the court liaison team had telephoned specifically to alert reception staff to his risk.

"We have made a number of recommendations to Cardiff in previous investigations about the failure to assess risk of suicide and self-harm adequately in reception and it is concerning that this happened again with Mr Capp."

The ombudsman said, however, this failure did not "directly relate" to Thomas' death.

When Capp, from Inverness, was jailed at Cardiff Crown Court, a psychiatric report revealed he had a personality disorder with anti-social and psychopathic features.

Mr Newcomen said: "We are concerned that, despite his identified risk factors when he first arrived, Mr Capp was allowed to share a cell before a manager's assessment and that his subsequent behaviour did not prompt a review of his Cell Sharing Risk Assessment."

The ombudsman's report recommended: "The governor should ensure prisoners with risk indicators for cell sharing do not share a cell until a manager has assessed the risk based on all the evidence and that a multidisciplinary team reviews the risk for sharing when a prisoner's behaviour indicates a possible change." An HM Prison Service spokesman said: "We welcome this report of the investigations by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman into the death of Darren Thomas, which concludes that it would have been difficult for prison staff to have predicted or prevented. "We take our duty to keep prisoners, staff and others safe extremely seriously and we will make sure we learn lessons from the PPO's recommendations.

"The Prime Minister has also announced an overhaul of how mental health is treated in prisons, giving governors a much greater say over what services their prisoners need and how the available budget is used."


Cardiff Prison where the fatal attack took place

Colin Capp

Darren Thomas
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 25, 2016
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