Socialist Worker

'I'll keep fighting to find out how my son died in jail'

An inquest showed serious discrepancies in the official account of Marlon McIntosh’s death in Birmingham prison, reports Annette Mackin

Issue No. 2429

Marlon McIntosh died at G4S-run HMP Birmingham in April last year

Marlon McIntosh died at G4S-run HMP Birmingham in April last year

The mother of a man who died in his prison cell has vowed to fight for the truth about what happened to her son.

Marlon McIntosh died on 30 April last year in the segregation unit of G4S-run HMP Birmingham. He was a week into a 62-day sentence for shoplifting.

His family were told that he had hung himself.

But serious discrepancies in the official account meant an inquest into his death last month returned an open verdict.

Now his mother, Marlene, is even more determined to find out how the 28 year old father of three died. 

“Everything Marlon did, he did it for his children,” she told Socialist Worker. “He wasn’t perfect, but no one is.

“I don’t believe he was suicidal. I believe he wanted to turn his life around and make a change. But something happened, and I want to know how my son died.”

The official account of Marlon’s death said he fashioned a noose from “bedding material” which was hung from a wall fixing.

But at the inquest the “bedding material” changed to lacing from his tracksuit.

And the specialised ducting bolt in the wall that he was supposedly hanging from was tamper proof with a special tool needed to unscrew it.

Marlon’s cell contained no tools or other equipment. And a previous check of the cell did not identify an unscrewed bolt.


However the cell did contain traces of broken glass and blood. His nose appeared to be broken and the side of his face was swollen.

An officer claims he discovered the body hanging at 11pm. But he did not radio for help. He told the inquest that he instinctively knew that Marlon was dead.

Instead, he ran for help and by chance came upon a night orderly in the centre office. The night orderly radioed for medical assistance and entered the cell.

But a report states Marlon was treated by prison nurses and later paramedics before being pronounced dead at 11.34pm.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report into Marlon’s death criticised the officer for his response. 

The night orderly could have been anywhere in the prison.

The officers also waited for the first response nurse to bring potentially life-saving emergency bags.

At the inquest Marlene pressed for questions to be put to the coroner surrounding the discrepancies in the official report.

“I believe that saved my son’s death being classified as suicide,” she said. “I’m not prepared to leave it. Marlon would want me to keep fighting for him.

“We are intelligent, working class people. Even if it takes me ten or 20 years I will keep fighting to know how my son died.”

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Article information

Tue 11 Nov 2014, 15:26 GMT
Issue No. 2429
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