Man died days after release from Welsh prison

A man died after drinking heavily and using drugs in the days after he was released from prison. Craig Jones, 44, was found dead at a friend's home having taken substances including heroin, a report by the prisons ombudsman says.

In 2021 Mr Jones was sentenced to 30 months in jail after being convicted of grievous bodily harm. He was imprisoned at HMP Parc in Bridgend before being released on home detention curfew in January 2022. The following month he was recalled because of unauthorised absences from his home. He would serve the remainder of his sentence at HMP Cardiff. When he arrived at the jail he tested positive for opiates and other drugs.

Mr Jones admitted he had been buying illicit drugs but did not want support from the Dyfodol drug and alcohol service. He said he had started using heroin after his girlfriend died by suicide, but claimed he had not used the drug for years, the report said. He was prescribed 5mg of anxiety medication diazepam twice a day, which ended in March 2022. His GP refused to restart the prescription because of the risks of long-term use. Mr Jones said he did not know what to do if he could not get diazepam and that he would look for drugs on the wing.

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Eventually Mr Jones agreed to try a prescription of antidepressant fluoxetine. He was released on May 26, 2022, with a seven-day supply of the medication. But he was not provided with naloxone — which can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose — because he had not been engaging with the substance misuse team, the ombudsman report said. You can sign up to our regular Crime and Punishment newsletter here

Mr Jones did not complete a housing assessment because he said he planned to live with his mum after his release. He claimed he had not used any illegal drugs while in prison and had no intention of working with Dyfodol in the community, though he said he would consider self-referring if he needed to.

Two days after his release Mr Jones visited his friend’s house. "They both drank a lot of alcohol and smoked cannabis, and then Mr Jones fell asleep in a chair," the report reads. "Mr Jones’ friend said that over the next couple of days, he consumed a large amount of alcohol, and it was not until the morning of June 1, when he tried to wake Mr Jones, that he realised he was unresponsive. He called the emergency services who confirmed that Mr Jones was dead. The police were satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances."

The post mortem report concluded that Mr Jones died of inhalation of stomach contents into the lungs in the setting of alcohol, diazepam, and heroin use. Alcoholic fatty liver disease was a contributing factor. An inquest later concluded that Mr Jones’ death was drug-related.

Prisons ombudsman Adrian Usher said: "The substance misuse team and healthcare staff at Cardiff supported Mr Jones with his illicit drug use. He was referred appropriately, and they addressed his needs during his time in Cardiff by placing him on a detoxification programme and extending this when required. However, because Mr Jones declined to work with the substance misuse team in the community, the continued support available for Mr Jones after his release to address his illicit drug use was very limited. We make no recommendations."