Charlotte Nokes: Prisoner 'lost hope of release' before cell death

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Charlotte Nokes
Image caption,
Charlotte Nokes was said to have been over-sedated and slurring in the months before her death

A woman serving an indefinite prison term who was found dead in her cell had "lost all hope of being released", an inquest has heard.

Charlotte Nokes, 38, was sentenced to 15 months but had served more than eight years when she died in July 2016.

At Huntingdon Coroner's Court, Ms Nokes's family said she felt as if she was serving a "death sentence".

She was being held at HMP Peterborough under an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence.

These were abolished in 2012, but remained in place for those already serving the sentence.

Prisoners such as Ms Nokes, from Hayling Island, near Portsmouth, were given a minimum term, but not released until the Parole Board was satisfied they were no longer a danger to the public.

Image caption,
Charlotte Nokes died in 2016 after being in prison for more than eight years

Ms Nokes, who suffered from borderline personality disorder, already had a lengthy criminal record when she was convicted of robbery.

Assistant coroner Simon Milburn told the inquest Ms Nokes had been "noted to be over-sedated and slurring" in the months leading up to her death.

A family statement said the IPP had been "a source of great distress".

It added: "At times she was in a dark place."

They said the last time her father Steven Nokes called her Ms Nokes' speech "was slurred".

The inquest heard she had talked about being placed in a segregation unit.

Clive Baxter, the prison's safety custody officer from 2008 until 2018, said Ms Nokes had on occasion been "placed in a separation and care unit".

He said such units were used for a resident's safety, if they committed a crime or if were rude, disruptive or bullying.

Prison GP, Dr Carsten Boin, said Ms Nokes had been seen for neck pain, but that none of the six medications she was taking would have caused drowsiness.

The inquest continues.

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