Northamptonshire prison officer did not spot sex offender dead in his cell

Report reveals inmate had been dead for some time when prisoners finally alerted staff

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 10:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 12:07 pm
Rye Hill prison is on the Northamptonshire border, north of Daventry
Rye Hill prison is on the Northamptonshire border, north of Daventry

A prison officer was sacked after failing to spot a sex offender was dead in his cell, a shocking report has found.

Stephen Maddock, 59, died at HMP Rye Hill, on the Northamptonshire border, last December.

But a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Sue McAllister revealed an officer had opened his cell door but failed to check on him — meaning nobody realised Maddock was dead for another half-hour.

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The report said: "The officer who unlocked Mr Maddock’s cell on the morning of December 7 failed to do a welfare check and therefore did not identify that Mr Maddock was dead on his cell floor.

"It took another half an hour before other prisoners alerted staff. Although this failure did not affect the outcome for Mr Maddock, as it appears he had been dead for some time, it is essential that unlock procedures are carried out correctly so that any welfare needs are identified and addressed as soon as possible.

"Mr Maddock had been dead for at least two hours. He was almost certainly dead when the 7.15am roll check was carried out, and possibly also at the 6.00am roll check."

Rye Hill is run by G4S — the same company that has just been awarded a ten-year contract to run Wellingborough jail when it opens in 2022. It holds moire than 600 Category B prisoners convicted of sex offences.

Rye Hill's director Peter Small said he "fully accepted" the report's recommendations.

Maddock, who was jailed for 16 years over sexual offences in 2015,was clinically obese, had diabetes and high blood pressure. The Ombudsman report said he died of acute pancreatitis.

But the report added the officer — who was later dismissed after a disciplinary investigation — had "failed to notice that he was dead on the floor".

"When unlocking a prisoner's cell, the officer is supposed to get a response from the prisoner to satisfy themselves that they are alive and well.

"This did not happen, which meant that no-one realised that Maddock was dead for another half an hour."

A second officer who carried out his roll check at 7.15am has been issued with a final written warning.