A dead prisoner was found with packets of drugs and a Kinder egg in his body after he introduced drugs into HMP Durham.
Liam Clerkson fell seriously ill just 40 minutes after being locked in his cell as he began a six-month sentence.
His shocked cellmate told police the 27-year-old was “like a zombie” when he arrived. After staff found him slumped on the toilet, he was rushed to hospital but died three days later.
A new report on his death reveals it was caused by spices – one of the same substances he smuggled into the prison.
It is the latest in a string of drug-related deaths to hit Category B prison. And while a guard dog praised the prison for cracking down on smuggling since the tragedy, he denounced the “ease apparent “into which he brought them.
“Mr. Clerkson died of (spice) sequelae, which he took shortly after arriving in Durham,” says Sue McAllister, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.
“In addition, several packages containing drugs were found secreted inside his body after his death. He was able to smuggle these drugs into the prison with apparent ease.”
The 200-year-old prison recently bought a state-of-the-art scanner, as part of a £ 100million nationwide crackdown on drugs.
And the Ombudsman added that since his death HMP Durham had made “good progress” in the fight against drugs, adding; “This should mean that it is now much more difficult for inmates to smuggle drugs into the prison through the reception, as Mr. Clerkson has done.”
The incident took place on August 3, 2018, the same day after Clerkson – who had previously been in prison – was convicted of possession of an offensive weapon.
Upon his arrival, the report states that Clerkson was “agitated” by inmates claiming he openly offered drugs to them.
During his medical examination, he tested positive for drugs, including cocaine, and staff asked staff to monitor him that night after he “appeared to be in a good mood.”
At 9:20 p.m., he was put in his cell for the night. At 10 p.m., officers were dragging his body out of the cell as a nurse placed an oxygen mask over his face before trying to use a defibrillator to start his heart.
Paramedics arrived within 15 minutes and he was rushed to hospital.
“At the hospital, Mr. Clerkson had an x-ray and unidentified objects were found in his rectum,” the mediator’s report said.
Doctors at the hospital recovered a Kinder egg and four wrappers of stretch film. Hospital staff notified police when the drugs were found in Mr. Clerkson’s body.
“An officer found a bag with ‘spices’, another bag with tobacco, a spoon and a cup with deodorant (used to smoke drugs) and brown liquid in Mr. Clerkson’s cell.
“The officer also said that the day after Mr Clerkson’s collapse he recorded an interview … with a new prisoner who said Mr Clerkson told reception he could supply drugs. “
Another inmate claimed he saw Clerkson “pulling a ‘Kinder egg’ containing pills from his pants.”
A postmortem examination indicated that the cause of death was hypoxic brain injury due to cardiopulmonary arrest, which had been caused by the spice intake.
“The pathologist noted that Mr. Clerkson had four intact cling film wrappers and a plastic container of a Kinder egg removed from his rectum,” the report added.
Packaging tests showed that three of the stretch film wrappers contained spices while the fourth contained sleeping pills. The Kinder egg contained a heroin substitute as well as diazepam.
Despite a damning report following the death of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, a 2019 follow-up found good progress had been made in tackling the problem.
And the watchdog made no recommendations regarding the prison’s drug supply policy, praising the work that has been done since.
However, the watchdog had made three recommendations following the death,
- The governor and chief of security are responsible for ensuring that information on illicit drug use and trafficking is properly recorded, shared and evaluated.
- • The governor and health care manager should ensure that initial assessments and DART referrals are performed by an appropriate member of staff.
- • The Governor should ensure that the health care team is informed after an attempt to resuscitate an inmate so that staff receive appropriate support, in accordance with national instructions.
A spokesperson for the Prison Service said: “Our condolences remain with Mr Clerkson’s family, since his death we have stepped up security with improved drug tests and the use of a body ray scanner. X. “