Gartree prison officer 'wrote messages in blood'

  • Published

A coroner has recorded a narrative verdict into the death of a prison officer found in a Leicestershire lake.

John Healy was discovered near Newton Harcourt in June 2008.

The inquest heard the 50-year-old, who was off work at Gartree Prison with stress, left messages written in blood at a house he was renovating nearby.

Deputy coroner Donald Coutts-Wood said he could not record a suicide verdict because it has not been established how Mr Healy's body came to be in the lake.

The inquest at Leicester Town Hall was told that the father-of-three was signed off work in November 2007 after being psychologically affected by the deaths of several prisoners.

His widow Linda said he was also angry after unsuccessfully applying for jobs within the Prison Service.

'Lost mobile'

Mr Healy, who lived with his family at Fleckney, had bought a second house in Wigston because doctors thought renovating the property might be therapeutic.

It was at the house that he cut himself and wrote in blood on the walls.

One message is thought to have been a criticism of Gartree's former deputy governor Sharon Williams, who told the inquest there had been no issue between herself and the prison officer.

However, his widow said he had spoken of a dispute with Ms Williams.

She also called for the Prison Service to review how it deals with staff who have been signed off due to trauma suffered in the course of their work.

Recording the narrative verdict, Mr Coutts-Wood criticised Leicestershire Police for losing Mr Healy's mobile phone.

He said that something had happened to trigger a "change in his mood" that day.

In a statement, the Prison Service said: "The death of senior officer John Healy is a tragedy and our sympathies are with his family and friends."

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