Women who died at Eastwood Park Prison was ‘bullied by other inmates.’

PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:14 06 November 2018

An inquest into his death was held at Avon Coroner's Court in Flax Bourton.

An inquest into his death was held at Avon Coroner's Court in Flax Bourton.


A Nailsea woman who died while serving a prison sentence had been the victim of bullying before her death, an inquest was told.

Jessica Whitchurch was found by staff hanged in her cell on May 18, 2016.

She was rushed to hospital and placed on life support but was pronounced brain dead and died two days later.

Claire Westfield, a supervising officer at Eastwood Park Prison told the court ‘Jessica was what staff call a lovable rogue’.

“She would often get in trouble but got on well with staff.”

In the February before her death Ms Whitchurch had been involved in an argument with other prisoners and had to be moved to another cell.

Ms Westfield said: “We moved her from A spur to B spur after the falling out and she was happy to move.

“When she looked over at A (spur) there were women wearing her clothing. They had taken her jeans and turned them into bandanas and other items that were meant to be degrading to her.”

She was later found by staff attempting to end her life.

Ms Whitchurch was placed on an ACCT, a care plan for prisoners at high risk of self-harm.

On May 18, Ms Whitchurch was involved in another incident with other prisoners and was found by staff attempting to end her own life.

She was kept in her cell and checked by staff at 12.20 and 12.58am. At 1.40am staff found the 31-year-old collapsed in her cell.

The alarm was raised and staff performed CPR until an ambulance arrived.

Ms Whitchurch had a history of drug abuse, self harm and had been diagnosed with a personality disorder and severe depression.

In a statement to the court her sister Emma Whitchurch said: “Jess had demons she struggled to cope with and didn’t always make the right choices.”

Ms Whitchurch had been housed on the lower floor of the drug rehabilitation wing of the prison but wanted to be moved to a different wing which specialised in helping inmates with mental health issues.

Head of healthcare at the prison, Catherine Aitken, told the court Ms Whitchurch was not detoxing at the time of her death.

A post-mortem report also confirmed Ms Whitchurch had no illegal drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of her death and had taken her medication.

The inquest continues.

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