Inquest opens into death at Bedford Prison

Bedford prison
HMP Bedford

A prisoner on remand at Bedford jail accused of attempting to murder his wife was found hanging in his cell, an inquest heard today.

Ezra Tamiem, 39, who had never been in custody, was under the care of the prison’s mental health team because he was considered to be a risk to himself.

The hearing before a jury at Ampthill was told the father of two from Wyboston in Bedfordshire had been remanded in custody at Bedford prison on 4 May last year (2020).

Bedfordshire’s Assistant Coroner Dr Sean Cummings said on his admission: “Staff said he was disorientated and confused and was struggling to answer simple questions.”

He was placed on the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork process that aims to support people at risk of self-harm.

He was also placed on constant watch as he was considered a suicide risk and on 6 May 2020 he was moved onto the healthcare in-patient unit.

Dr Cummings said Ezra Tamiem was prescribed medication and his condition improved, but he was placed on constant suicide watch again on 12 June after a visible ligature mark was seen on his neck.

The constant watch ended three days later.

He was found dead at ten to eight in the morning on 15 July last year when a nurse came to give him his medication.

The coroner said one of the main issues in the inquest was “could his death have been reasonably prevented?”

The inquest, which is due to last four days, is due to hear what checks staff made on him during the night.

In a statement read to the court by her lawyer, his wife Clare Tamiem said they had a “good solid marriage for many years.”

But she said her husband began to drink and became more controlling. She said she could not cope with his behaviour and wanted a divorce.

He had begged for a chance to change but, on 1 May last year, they agreed she would leave the family home with the children.

She was in her bedroom when he came “screaming and coming at her with a knife.”

“He stabbed me as if he were possessed. I was confused by his erratic and out of character behaviour,” she said.

Mrs Tamiem said when she heard of his death she was “absolutely devastated.”

She said: “He had never been convicted. It was his first period in custody. His daughters have lost their father. He could have been a loving father to them in the longer term.”

A post mortem examination carried out at Bedford hospital on 20 July last year found the cause of death to be asphyxia due to hanging.

Inquest proceeding.

If you have been affected by this article, or if you think you need to talk to someone about any of the issues raised, you can access support from the Samaritans here.

Supplied by South Beds News Agency
Edited by Paul Hutchinson for the Bedford Independent

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