Application no. 62688/00
by Cleo SCOTT
against the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 25 August 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J. Casadevall, President,
Sir Nicolas Bratza,
Mr G. Bonello,
Mr R. Maruste,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Mr J. Borrego Borrego, judges,
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 28 July 2000,
Having regard to the parties’ correspondence,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Cleo Scott, the mother of the deceased, is a United Kingdom national who was born in 1961 and lives in London. She is represented before the Court by Ms J. Cockburn, a lawyer practising in London.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties and as may be deduced from the documents provided, may be summarised as follows.
On 30 January 2000, Keita Michael Craig, the deceased, was arrested and detained at Richmond police station. He was subsequently charged with robbery, assault with intent to resist arrest and possession of cannabis.
On 31 January 2000 the deceased appeared at the Richmond-upon-Thames Magistrates’ Court, where he was remanded in custody to HM Prison Wandsworth. A social worker with the Richmond Community Mental Health Care Centre, Mr Robotham, attended upon the deceased at court. The deceased stated that he might kill himself if he went to prison. Mr Robotham noticed that both wrists of the deceased were swollen. The deceased informed him that he had tried to cut his wrists with his teeth and other objects. Mr Robotham discussed his concerns about the deceased with Ms Tracey Lowe, a probation officer who was present at court.
Ms Lowe completed a form entitled “Prisoner Warning Notice: Possible Risk of Self-Harm or Suicide” in respect of the deceased, noting, inter alia, that the deceased had been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, that he had attempted to harm himself on at least one occasion in the past and that he was currently receiving treatment which included regular injections of 50mg of Depixol per fortnight which was due on 1 February 2000.
Having completed the form, Ms Lowe faxed it through to the prison, annotating on the cover sheet of the facsimile that, “in my assessment Mr Craig should be seen by a doctor and hospitalised in custody”. She further telephoned the prison and spoke to the Deputy Governor and its Health Care Centre about the deceased.
Ms Lowe and Mr Robotham both alerted the custody officer in charge of the deceased at the magistrates’ court, Ms Skilton, that he had been diagnosed as being schizophrenic and that he had suicidal tendencies. As a result, Ms Skilton initiated a form ‘F2052SH’ entitled “SELF HARM AT RISK FORM” (a form opened on behalf of prisoners who are thought to be at risk of self harm or suicide). She noted on the form that the applicant was frightened that he might hurt himself, that he was to be observed every 15 minutes and that his shoelaces had been removed.
At 16:40 hours the deceased was transferred to Wandsworth prison. His form F2052SH accompanied him.
Upon his arrival at Wandsworth prison at 18:37 hours, a “first reception health screen” was carried out by staff nurse Adedayo. At 19:00 hours, the deceased was seen by Dr Pothalingam, a locum doctor at the prison. Dr Pothalingam did not recommend that the deceased should be observed every 15 minutes, nor did he instruct that the deceased’s shoelaces should be kept from him. Indeed, the deceased’s shoelaces were ultimately returned to him.
At 19:50 hours the deceased was admitted to the Health Care Centre and placed in a single cell.
At approximately 20:45 hours a senior staff nurse carrying out a check found the deceased hanging by his shoelace from the foot of his bed in his single cell. The deceased was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he was certified as being dead shortly after his arrival.
In what appears to have been March 2000, a report into the death of the deceased was carried out by the Deputy Governor and the clinical director of Brixton prison. That report made recommendations inter alia concerning procedures for inmates in respect of whom a form F2052SH had been opened.
An initial inquest into the death of the deceased was heard on 13 and 14 April 2000. The verdict of the jury was that the deceased had killed himself whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed.
On 13 July 2000 the applicant commenced judicial review proceedings challenging the verdict of the first inquest. On 13 February 2001 the Divisional Court quashed the inquisition at the original inquest on the grounds that the coroner had erred in law in failing to leave neglect as a potential verdict.
A fresh inquest with a newly constituted jury was held in October 2001. The verdict of the jury was that the deceased had killed himself whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed and that the cause of death was contributed to by neglect.
The applicant complained under Article 2 of the Convention that the State failed to take reasonable positive steps to prevent the deceased from taking his life. She complained under Article 3 of the Convention about the treatment of the deceased in prison and under Article 8 of the Convention that the death of the deceased infringed her right to enjoy family life, in particular her enjoyment as a parent of the company of her child.
The applicant complained under Article 13 of the Convention that she does not have any effective domestic remedy in respect of the death of the deceased.
By letter dated 20 June 2005, the Government informed the Registry that the Government and the applicant had reached agreement to settle the case The Government was to pay the applicant 20,000 pounds sterling (GBP) plus GBP 15,500, inclusive of value-added tax, for legal costs. The Government also agreed to provide a public letter of apology acknowledging the substantive breach of Article 2 of the Convention and its seriousness. By letter dated 8 July 2005, the applicant has confirmed the settlement.
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). Accordingly, it should be struck out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Michael O’Boyle Josep