Belfast Telegraph

Inquest told of concerns over homeless man Joel Souter 's death in Maghaberry Prison

By Joanne Sweeney

Questions have been raised over the care of a homeless man who died at Maghaberry Prison following hospital treatment for a serious head injury, an inquest heard yesterday.

The 37-year-old man died eight days after he sustained a fractured skull as a result of single punch from another man in a Belfast city centre affray.

Despite making a good recovery in hospital, Joel Mark Frazer Souter suddenly deteriorated while in prison and was found dead in his cell on July 10.

He died as a result of bruising and oedema associated with a fracture of the skull and secondary brainstem haemorrhage.

The attacker, Viktoras Fedrenko, was later sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for the manslaughter of Souter following an incident where he had been drinking heavily outside with a group of other men on July 2.

The inquest was told that there was no question that the punch Fedrenko threw at Souter, which "lifted him off his feet", had caused his death after he landed hard on his head.

Mr Souter was discharged from Belfast City Hospital to Maghaberry Prison after police discovered there was a bench warrant for him.

However, the jury heard an expert medical witness query the adequacy of the hospital discharge information to the prison and the observations carried out by prison staff after he was found dead in his cell on July 10, 2007.

Consultant neurologist Nick Philips from Leeds General Infirmary told the inquest about the Belfast City Hospital discharge letter: "It sounds like there wasn't too much concern about Mr Souter on discharge."

He also queried evidence from the prison detailing the nature of the observations carried out on Mr Souter while in its custody.

An Englishman, Mr Souter was an alcoholic who came to live in Belfast after making friends with several Belfast men while they were working as apprentice painters in London.

Evidence was presented about the deteriorating health and lifestyle of Mr Souter over the years since those days.

One of his friends, Mark Burnett, said in a statement that Souter "was not a fighter" and was a "wonderful guy when he wasn't drinking".

But he admitted that as a younger man his friend had used controlled drugs as part of the rave culture.

Mr Souter had also tried to get treatment for his alcoholism before his death.

But there were claims that he had indecently assaulted two nurses at Belfast City Hospital on the night he was admitted following his attack.

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph


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