Inquest begins into prison death of 19-year-old woman

An inquest into the death of a young woman who died in custody five years ago begins today.

Petra Blanksby, who was found hanging by a ligature in her cell while on remand for arson at HMP New Hall in November 2003, had a history of self-harm.

She had also been diagnosed with a personality disorder and in the 130 days she spent in New Hall she self-harmed 90 times. Some of her injuries were so serious she was admitted to hospital.

Co-director of charity Inquest Deborah Coles said the hearing, which will last two weeks, needs to explore why someone who was a suicide risk had been sent to prison.

Petra’s father, Peter Blanksby, said: “It’s disgusting we have had to wait all this time. We need to know why my daughter was sent to prison  when she had so many problems and why they couldn’t take care of her when she was there.”

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