Arson attacker found hanging — (South Wales Argus)

SSRI Ed note: Man, 20, in jail for petrol-bomb attack, commits suicide by hanging himself from bedpost. Mental illness blamed.

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South Wales Argus

Friday, 7 December 2001

A MAN found hanging in a young offenders’ unit was described as suffering from depression at a court hearing just five days earlier.

David Smith, aged 20, of Park Avenue, Maesglas, Newport, was found hanging from the edge of his bed in the unit at Parc Prison in Bridgend at 4.30pm on Wednesday.

He was pronounced dead by prison doctors at 5pm.

At Newport crown court last Friday, Smith was sentenced to five years detention after he pleaded guilty to a petrol-bomb attack on the home of a witness who was due to testify against him.

We revealed on Saturday how his defence counsel Stephen Jeary told the court on Friday: “We are dealing with a man who requires detailed treatment and who suffers from a mental disorder.”

He added that Smith suffered from depression and was prescribed Prozac.

Parc Prison spokeswoman Alison Williams said: “Trained medical staff made every effort to save the man’s life and paramedics were quickly on the scene.

“The prison service, police and coroner have been informed and an independent investigation into the incident will be carried out in line with Home Office procedures.”

An inquest has been opened into the death of Smith, the seventh custody death at Parc Prison since 1997 and the second this year. Ms Williams added: “The man’s next of kin have been informed and we offer our sincerest condolences.”

At the court hearing last Friday, Smith pleaded guilty to arson, two counts of intimidating witnesses and driving while disqualified.

Smith was found driving while disqualified by police at Newport’s Harlequin roundabout on August 18 this year.  He fled the scene but was spotted by a man who was prepared to give evidence against Smith in court.

But Smith cycled to the witness’s home at Fields Park Avenue and threw a home-made petrol bomb at the house. No-one was injured.