Essex prisoner found hanging in his cell as paramedics rush to scene

A prisoner at HMP Chelmsford was found hanging in his cell, an inquest has revealed.

Emergency services were called to the ‘medical emergency’ in Chelmsford just after 4.30pm on March 2.

Several ambulance crews and an air ambulance were seen attending the incident at the Category B prison.

The inmate, named by the Prison Service at the time as Paul Joseph, was transported to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Sadly, the 46-year-old prisoner was confirmed dead at the hospital later the same day.

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The inquest into Mr Joseph’s death was opened at Essex Coroner’s Court last Thursday (March 18) by area coroner Sean Horstead.

The court heard that Mr Joseph was found unresponsive and hanging in his cell.

He was rushed to Broomfield Hospital where he sadly died shortly after 10pm.

Essex Police conducted an assessment and confirmed that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Mr Joseph’s death.

What is an inquest?

The inquest opened today (Friday, September 29)

Inquests do not investigate every single death that happens, but will hear unexplained or suspicious deaths of individuals. They will hear from witnesses from organisations, health services, as well as officers and police who investigated the incidents.

The law says that the coroner must open an inquest into a death if there is a reasonable cause to suspect that the death was due to anything other than natural causes.

An inquest is a limited fact-finding inquiry to establish:

  • Who died;
  • When they died;
  • Where they died;
  • How they died; and
  • Information needed by the Registrar of Deaths so the death can be registered.

There is a formal court setting and all must stand when the coroner enters and leaves the court.

It is very much in the public interest to have an effective inquest system, as it safeguards the legal rights of the deceased’s family and other interested persons. It highlights lessons to be learned and advances in medical knowledge.

Many families also find it helps to have the chance to ask questions to witnesses, and at the end of the process, know that they have the full and accurate facts about their loved one’s death.

A post mortem examination gave a provisional cause of death as asphyxia due to hanging.

Coroner Sean Horstead confirmed that the case will be adjourned pending a Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) investigation.

The coroner’s service is awaiting further reports and documentation.

The next hearing is provisionally listed for July 14, 2021, at 2.30pm at Essex Coroners Court in Chelmsford.

The Prison Service has not confirmed what sentence the prisoner was serving.

At the time of the incident, a Prison Service spokesperson said: “HMP Chelmsford prisoner Paul Joseph died in hospital on March 2. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “An ambulance, rapid response vehicle, two vehicles from the Hazardous Area Response Team and the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance attended a medical emergency at HMP Chelmsford just after 4.30pm on Tuesday, March 2.

“A male patient was transported to Broomfield Hospital.”

Essex Live