HMP Durham prisoner who asked for protection found dead in his cell after just two weeks at the jail

Derek Stewart had only been inside the County Durham prison for a fortnight before he died

An HMP Durham prisoner took his own life shortly after he pleaded for special protection from staff, a report has revealed.

Derek Stewart told staff he was worried for his safety while serving time inside the 200-year-old prison due to his belief that other inmates thought he was a sex offender.

The 37-year-old had a past plagued with substance abuse and violence.

He had been serving a two year sentence for assault and carrying a bladed article at HMP Edinburgh, where he had gained “enemies” after racking up drug debts.

He only spent a fortnight in HMP Durham, having been transferred to face further charges in the North East.

However, on March 2019, Stewart was found dead in his cell by staff.

A new report into his death states staff at the County Durham prison “missed opportunities” to investigate his claims that he was being threatened by other inmates.

“Mr Stewart clearly felt vulnerable and at risk, whether those threats were real or perceived,” states a Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report.

“Although Durham followed their policy which included sending the information about Mr Stewart to the violence reduction officer, nobody spoke to Mr Stewart about his worries.

“It is apparent that Mr Stewart remained concerned about his safety during this time.”

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