Leeds burglar died 'after being made to eat faeces and take drugs in jail'

By Andrew Robinson

A vulnerable inmate at a West Yorkshire prison was forced to smoke illicit drugs by other prisoners who would then watch how it affected him 'for entertainment', according to a report.

Imran Azad - who claimed he was raped as a child - was said to be a bullying victim who frequently used psychoactive substances, a report on his death has concluded.

The 35-year-old died in hospital after being found collapsed at Wealstun prison near Wetherby.

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The cause of death was synthetic cannabinoid toxicity.

An investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Sue McAllister uncovered allegations that Mr Azad had been beaten and bullied while a prisoner.

A learning disability nurse had noted that Mr Azad "had twice been made to eat faeces in return for PS (psychoactive substances) and there was a possibility that other prisoners had given him PS to test it."

A nurse who assessed Mr Azad concluded that he might be learning disabled.

The Ombudsman's report noted: "In subsequent sessions with the nurse, Mr Azad spoke of bullying, including racist abuse and comments about his functioning.

During one incident, Mr Azad was found unresponsive and was covered in washing-up liquid and food.

Another incident saw prisoners shave part of his head or use hair removal cream to indicate that Mr Azad was in debt. Mr Azad was transferred to another wing for his own protection. He was frustrated and angry about the move and tried to hang himself within an hour.

During mental health assessments, Mr Azad disclosed serious issues he had faced in his life, including learning difficulties, childhood rape, bullying in the community and in prison.

A prison GP was concerned about his vulnerability and noted a split lip and broken tooth, which Mr Azad had attributed to assaults.

Mr Azad, who was serving a sentence for burglary, died on June 7, 2019.

CCTV footage showed that 12 prisoners had gone in and out of his cell before staff were alerted to his condition.

The police interviewed three prisoners who said Mr Azad used PS every day. He would offer to clean other cells or sell his food in exchange for the drug, it was claimed.

Some prisoners also gave him PS to see how he reacted to it, the report noted.

"The prison's security department received several security intelligence reports, giving information on the source and suppliers of the PS used by Mr Azad that day and the type of PS they believed he had taken.

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"It was alleged that Mr Azad had not taken the PS voluntarily that day, but had been forced to do so by two prisoners (with others watching) for entertainment."

A post mortem report established that Mr Azad had heart disease that had contributed to, but did not cause, his death.

The Ombudsman concluded that several forms of support were put in place for Mr Azad but he had struggled to fully engage.

Staff had appropriately addressed reports of bullying and assault and were "proactive when they observed untoward behaviour."

The Ombudsman raised concerns that Mr Azad did not have a key worker for long periods of time when he seemed to be particularly vulnerable.

The investigation also found some weaknesses in the emergency response after Mr Azad was found unresponsive.

"These have been largely addressed following our recommendation in a previous report, but I believe that operational staff would benefit from a reminder of the need to begin resuscitation immediately when a prisoner is unresponsive."

The Ombudsman noted that the prison had addressed weaknesses in its substance misuse strategy.

She recommended the prison governor review the prison's drug testing arrangements to ensure that prisoners suspected of using drugs are tested.

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