Inquest into death of William Duke begins
MEDIA ADVISORY NOTICE
1st April 2010
Inquest into death of William Duke at
HMP Elmley on 9 November 2005 begins at 10.30am Tuesday 6 April
Sitting before HM Coroner for Mid Kent
& Medway, Mr Roger Sykes at Sessions House, County Road,
Maidstone, Kent ME14 1XQ
The inquest into the death of 23 year old
William Duke opens on Tuesday 6 April 2010; it is expected to last
From a young child, Mr Duke suffered from
severe asthma. On 29 October 2005, Mr Duke was remanded into
custody. On 7 November 2005, he appeared at Sittingbourne
Magistrates’ Court and was transferred to HMP Elmley on the Isle of
Sheppey. He was placed in a three man cell with two other
On the morning of 8 November 2005, Mr Duke was
seen by the prison GP. Mr Duke’s seretide inhaler, which prevents
the onset of an asthma attack, had run out. A new inhaler was
requested from the pharmacy at HMP Rochester. This inhaler should
have arrived for 4pm treatments, but it was late. Mr Duke never
received the seretide inhaler.
By 1am on the evening of 8/9 November 2005, Mr
Duke was experiencing breathing difficulties. The cell buzzer was
pressed and prison officers attended and contacted the nurse. The
nurse did not attend.
By 5.15am, Billy’s asthma had become critical.
The cell buzzer was pressed and prison officers attended.
Both the Night Orderly Officer (NOO) and the Nurse in Healthcare
were contacted. The NOO is the only person in the prison at night,
with a complete set of keys, enabling access between various parts
of the prison including healthcare and the prison house blocks.
It took at least thirty minutes for the NOO to
attend Mr Duke’s cell after the cell buzzer had been pressed. At
this stage, Mr Duke had collapsed on the bed. The nurse was
summonsed and an ambulance called. CPR was unsuccessful and Mr Duke
was pronounced dead at 6.21am.
The family does not understand how Mr Duke
could have died of an asthma attack in a three man cell and wishes
those responsible to be held to account. The keys issues the family
hopes will be explored at the inquest include: -
· the delay in the dispensation of the
seretide inhaler to Mr Duke;
· After Mr Duke started to complain of
breathing difficulties -
· the prison’s response to the 1am cell bell,
· the prison’s response to the 5.15am cell
Mr Duke’s family is being represented by
INQUEST Lawyers Group members
Anna Thwaites from Hodge Jones & Allen LLP and Counsel Nick
Brown from Doughty Street Chambers.