Prisoner facing murder trial found dead ‘after having visions of victim’s face’

A murder suspect who claimed to see visions of his victim's face was found hanged in his prison cell, a court was told.

Simon Mellors was found dead at HMP Manchester – formally known as Strangeways – on February 25, 2018.

The 56-year-old was being held on remand ahead of his murder trial and had recently been transferred from HMP Nottingham at the time of his death, Manchester Evening News reports.

Manchester Coroner's Court heard how Mellors was on the prison's healthcare wing after suffering a fractured spine during a car crash a month earlier.

Swearing in a jury for the three-day inquest, Assistant Coroner Nick Stanage told them: "It may be that [Mellors'] offences are mentioned – if so, put that to one side and focus on the questions here.

"You're not being asked to judge the deceased from above the grave, you're being asked to decide how he came by his death."

The court heard how nurse Samuel Zhuwankinyu assessed of Mellors when he arrived at the prison.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Zhuwankinyu said: "I think I made an error in respect of the question 'has the patient a history of ACTT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork plan) in the last three months?'

"I answered 'No' and it should have been 'Yes'."

Asked about the error by the coroner Mr Stanage, Mr Zhuwankinyu added: "Sometimes you end up ticking the wrong box by mistake."

The court heard nurse Maureen McEachern gave rehab care to Mellors in the weeks before his death.

She told how he was largely bound to a wheelchair and required a frame when he did attempt to walk.

During their time together, nurse McEachern said Mellors was "open about his alleged offence of murder."

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Speaking to a police officer, she said: "He would say 'do you know what I've done?' And I would say 'yes'.

"He would say he could see his victim's face.

"I asked him if he would like to see a psychiatrist but I didn't see any signs of mental health issues.

"He didn't seem to show any emotion.

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"He would just tell me about [the visions] and he would just say that he wanted it to go away."

Asked if she thought Mellors might have been "expressing remorse" or whether he was simply "bothered by the visions," the nurse replied: "Yes it was that. I thought he might have said to me that he felt guilty or whatever… but he didn't."

"I've worked in that unit a long time," she said.

"I've had concerns about other patients but not him.

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"That's why when I found him that day it was so horrific, he was the last person I would have thought would do something like that."

The court heard Mellors was monitored by staff on February 25 and seen to be in bed.

But prison officer Ben Hesketh noticed he was no longer in bed at about 8.40am.

Soon after, Mellors was found hanged near the cell toilet.

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A pathologist recorded the cause of death as hanging.

The jury must choose whether the death was accidental or suicide.

The inquest continues.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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