The widow of an inmate who killed himself while on “suicide watch” in Preston has attacked the prison service for not taking better care of her husband.
Christopher Oldham made a noose out of his shoelaces and hanged himself from a curtain pole in his cell at the city’s jail.
After an inquest jury returned a verdict that he took his own life, Mrs Carol Oldham said: “I just hope the lessons learned from his death will prevent something like this happening again.
“They didn’t look after him. The system didn’t work, it didn’t protect him. But things will have to change in the prison service as a result of this. So for that he is a hero. I don’t feel bitter, just disappointed. All I can do now is bring up his little girl up and, when she’s old enough, tell her what happened to her daddy.”
Mr Oldham, who had a history of attempting suicide, was in HMP Preston on remand after being accused of breaching an order not to contact his wife after the couple had split up. Friends said he was depressed at not being able to see his two-and-a-half year old daughter.
Officers were meant to check him every half hour and the cell was also on CCTV. But moments after he was checked at 9.22pm he took his own life - and his body was not found until three hours later. An officer who failed to monitor him properly and the officer’s wife who, as a supervisor at the jail, covered up for her husband, were both subsequently given suspended prison terms for misconduct in a public office.
It took a jury almost four hours to reach the suicide verdict after discounting a theory Mr Oldham may not have meant to kill himself. The prison service is to look at why what should have been a collapsible curtain pole, glued to the wall, did not break under Mr Oldham’s weight.