West Lothian prisoner lay dead in cell for hours before being found the next morning

By Sian Traynor

A West Lothian prisoner died alone in his cell, an inquiry has found.

John Smith, an inmate at HMP Addiewell had passed away during the night after suffering a series of different health issues.

A report into his death found that Smith had died in the early hours of the morning on April 21, 2019, but had not been discovered until around 8am.

After being found by officers in his cell, the 68-year-old was officially pronounced dead at 11.10am.

A following inquiry stated that despite passing away alone, Smith’s death had not been unusual or an accident, and was put down to natural causes.

The prisoner had been suffering from a number of different lung conditions including a type of pneumonia, COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and Ichaemic heart disease.

Smith had been completing the third year of his sentence at the time of his death, after being found guilty of four charges of historical lewd, indecent and libidinous practices.

Prior to his sentencing, a medical exam had confirmed Smith had previously offered with COPD, prostate cancer and a history of smoking which had resulted in lung damage.

Staff at HMP Addiewell also stated that they had been undertaking hourly visual observations of Smith on the night of his death as a precaution, before he was found in the morning.

However, it was stated that instructions from healthcare staff to prison officers had not been communicated properly.


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