Inmate ‘berated and threatened’ before her death, says mother

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Katie Allan died at Polmont Young Offenders Institute in 2018

A woman who took her own life at a young offenders institute had been taunted and threatened by other inmates, a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) has heard.

Katie Allan, 21, was found dead in her cell at Polmont YOI on 4 June 2018.

She had been sent there in March 2018 after being sentenced to 16 months for a drink-driving hit and run crash.

Her mother Linda told the FAI her daughter had been left traumatised by abuse inside Polmont, near Falkirk.

She said there had been “berating, shouting and threats”.

Someone had shouted at her to “go and hang yourself Katie and give us all peace”.

Ms Allan also suffered taunts over her hair loss through alopecia, her mother said.

She added that Ms Allan’s mental health “significantly deteriorated” while she was in custody and that she was “incredibly distressed”.

Mrs Allan told the inquiry she had visited her daughter on 3 June 2018.

She said she was completely different to how she had been in all her previous visits.

Mrs Allan said she looked “absolutely exhausted” and she could see she had been crying.

She said Ms Allan would usually put on a brave face but on this occasion she burst into tears.

The inquiry at Falkirk Sheriff Court heard Ms Allan told her that there had been a huge fight and she wanted to be moved to another cell where it would be quieter.

Mrs Allan said she spoke to a prison officer as she left the visit and told her what her daughter had said.

When asked if speaking to the officer had given her some reassurance, she replied: “I thought the prison officer was going to take action. It is the biggest regret of my life that I did not phone or refuse to leave.”

After the visit, Mrs Allan wrote an email to Katie. In it she told her: “You are loved, you have a home and a life to start rebuilding in a few weeks Katie, please hold onto that.

“Read your books and try really hard to zone out the noise. I know that won’t be easy but try. When you don’t react they will get fed up Love you, mum xx.”

Triggered by stress

Ms Allan told the inquiry her daughter had suffered from eczema since childhood and alopecia developed later.

She said she noticed her eczema, which was triggered by stress and allergies, on her visit to her daughter just days after she was taken to Polmont.

In the following weeks she said Ms Allan lost 60% of her hair.

Mrs Allan, who had 38 years’ experience in mental health as a nurse, said she also noticed a significant deterioration in her daughter’s mental health.

The FAI is also looking into the death of 16-year old William Brown.

William Brown was admitted to Polmont because there was no space in a children’s secure unit

He took his own life in Polmont in October 2018.

The joint inquiry previously heard he, was remanded in custody after being deemed a “potential risk to public safety” three days before his death.

Mr Brown, who had been in care repeatedly, was admitted to Polmont because there was no space in a children’s secure unit.

He had earlier walked into a police station with a knife while on bail for another blade offence.

Despite a plea to bail him due to a lack of beds in a secure unit, Mr Brown was remanded to Polmont where he died in custody.

The inquiry continues.

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