The coroner who conducted the inquest into the death of Joseph
Scholes has called for a public inquiry after the appalling
conditions the 16 year old endured at Stoke Heath Young Offenders
In an unprecedented move, John Ellery announced he would be writing
to the home secretary to request a public inquiry to resolve issues
arising from the inquest.
His comments came as the inquest jury sitting at Shrewsbury
Magistrates’ Court returned a verdict of accidental death. They
added that other factors contributed, concluding “the risk was not
properly recognised and appropriate precautions were not taken to
Scholes was found hanging in his cell at Stoke Heath, Shropshire,
in March 2002, nine days into his two-year sentence for
Investigations into the child’s death by the Prison Service, a
social services expert and a consultant adolescent psychiatrist
instructed by the coroner agreed that Prison Service accommodation
was unsuitable for Scholes.
Meanwhile, the government has announced a public inquiry into the
death of an Asian teenager who was killed by his racist cellmate in
Feltham Young Offenders Institution.
Zahid Mubarek, 19, was killed by Robert Stewart in 2000. Stewart
was later convicted of murder and sentenced to life in
Home secretary David Blunkett announced the inquiry in response to
a Law Lords’ ruling, having refused earlier requests from Mubarek’s
family. But the inquiry will be non-statutory, so witnesses cannot
be compelled to attend.