Inquest told of prison officer writing a 'message in blood'
The inquest was held at Leicester Town Hall
By gemma peplow
A prison officer who was off work with depression wrote a message in his own blood before his body was discovered in a lake, an inquest heard.
John Healy, of Fleckney, died seven months after he was signed off from his job as a senior prison officer at Gartree Prison.
The 50-year-old's body was found with cuts to his wrists, arms and legs in a lake near Newton Harcourt on June 25, 2008 – just five days before he was due to return to work.
At Leicester Town Hall yesterday, the inquest was told Mr Healy had suffered from flashbacks following a "nasty" incident involving a prisoner in 2005, and that three deaths in prison during 2006 and 2007 had also upset him.
The inquest heard that on the evening of his death, the bloody message – which included a swear word and then the words "Dep Gov Cow" – was discovered at the property he was renovating.
The writing was believed to be referring to former HMP Gartree deputy governor Sharon Williams. But when giving evidence, she said she had no reason to think Mr Healy had a problem with her.
Addressing Miss Williams, deputy coroner for Leicester and Leicestershire South Donald Coutts-Wood said: "Mr Healy was renovating a house. We're going to hear evidence that on June 24 that house was 'in order'.
"When Mr Healy was discovered, later that evening that property was visited and there was found scrawled on the wall some writing that appears to have been written in blood.
"Let's just assume that that is referring to you, can you give me a reason?"
Miss Williams replied: "No."
She added that by the time of his death, she had been promoted to prison governor.
Mr Healy was also unhappy about receiving a letter summoning him to attend an inquest into one of the deaths, the court heard.
A statement by his GP, Dr Saskia Freestone of Kibworth Health Centre, which was read out on her behalf, said Mr Healy had first attended the surgery suffering from work-related anxiety in July 2007.
He returned in November of that year, and by that time was feeling "very stressed and frustrated," the statement said.
He was prescribed anti-depressants and signed off work.
The inquest heard Mr Healy had applied unsuccessfully for several different positions at Gartree and other prisons.
The hearing was also told his salary was due to be reduced to half-pay after being off work for six months.
He met prison officers on June 10, 2008, to discuss returning to work on a gradual basis over 12 weeks, and it was agreed he would start on June 30.
Colleagues at HMP Gartree described Mr Healy as "a smashing chap who worked well" and "very likeable."