Exchange Chambers barristers represent interested persons at a four-week Article 2 jury inquest

April 15, 2015

Michael Lavery, Alfred Weiss and Andrew Ward of Exchange Chambers have successfully represented properly interested persons at a four-week Article 2 jury inquest commencing in March 2015 at Liverpool Coroner’s Court.

The inquest arose from the death in custody of Mr. Steven Heatman at H.M.P. Liverpool on 25th June 2011. He had been remanded in custody awaiting trial on more than forty charges of sexual assault against minors. He had admitted some of the offences during a police interview.

The inquest was conducted pursuant to Article 2 of the ECHR such that there was an expanded inquiry into the question how and in what circumstances the deceased came by his death. The case concerned the transfer of information, namely whether the police properly passed on information suggesting that the deceased may be at risk of self-harm to the prison when the deceased was remanded in custody; whether the prison’s reception desk properly passed on a suicide / self-harm warning form to the prison’s healthcare department; whether opportunities to open an Assessment Care in Custody and Teamwork Plan (ACCT) were missed; and whether it was appropriate for the deceased to have been moved prior to his death from a shared to a single cell.

Michael Lavery and Alfred Weiss each represented a prison officer and Andrew Ward represented a prison governor. The jury’s conclusion was that the cause of death was compression of the neck due to hanging. In its expanded narrative conclusion, the jury made no criticism of any of the officers or governors at H.M.P. Liverpool.

Michael, Alfred and Andrew consider that this inquest demonstrates Exchange Chambers’ strength in depth in representing properly interested persons at expanded Article 2 inquests.