Man jailed indefinitely for 23-month crime took life after 17 years

The UK's longest-serving prisoner jailed under an IPP order took his own life in his cell - 17 years after he was jailed on a 23 month tariff. Scott Rider, 45, was given a minimum tariff of 23 months for GBH while on license for an earlier offence in 2005.

An inquest last month heard Scott took his own life by hanging at HMP Woodhill in June 2022 while serving a now-abolished controversial Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence. The court ruled "at the time of Scott's death, there were inadequate staffing levels and the continuing length of his sentence was uncertain".

IPP sentences were introduced in 2005 and scrapped in 2012 and have no release date. There have been calls to re-sentence the 1,227 IPP prisoners who have never been released.

A bill is making its way through the House of Lords and will be debated and voted on in the coming months. Scott’s sister, Michelle Mahon, 55, blames the prison system and IPP sentences for his death.

She is campaigning for IPP sentences to be reviewed and says if Scott was still alive, he would be the UK’s longest serving IPP prisoner. Michelle, from Durham, County Durham, said: “My goal is to have these IPPs reviewed – I believe they were reviewed only two years ago in 2022 and there was basically nothing done about it.

“If he’d been given a normal 23-month tariff, he would have been out and wouldn’t have even served 23 months. They said he wouldn’t comply and that’s why he wasn’t released.

"But waking up in a bad mood and basically telling [prison staff] to ‘f off’ is not a reason to keep him in prison. If Scott had not committed suicide, he would be country’s longest serving prisoner without parole.

“For something abolished all those years ago how can there still be IPP prisoners? I don’t blame the prison, it’s the prison system and IPP sentences – at the time of his death Woodhill was working to only 54 percent staff coverage.

“I tried to take my own life because of this – it's had a massive effect."

Michelle says Scott was a loving brother and devoted uncle – but says he fell in with the ‘wrong crowd’ at 14 and ended up involved in drugs. After being sent to prison in 2003 for assaulting their father, Michelle says she lost contact with her brother.

She says she was aware he had been released from prison and cleaned his life up – meeting a girlfriend and expecting a baby. But after his girlfriend miscarried, Scott was detained after assaulting a colleague.

He was given an IPP sentence - and Michelle didn't hear from him again. His family were informed Scott had died when two prison officers from Durham Prison turned up on the doorstep in June 2022.

Michelle says a custody officer from Woodhill prison had arrived at an old address for her father the previous day. A jury inquest was held into his death at Milton Keynes Coroner's Court in March this year.

It concluded his death was by suicide, and on June 13 2022, Scott was found hanging in his cell. The conclusion said: "Scott Rider was a prisoner at HMP Woodhill, serving a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection.

"This was a sentence of indeterminate length. The minimum tariff was 23 months, Scott had been in prison for 17 and a half years at his time of death."

It said Scott was transferred to the prison twelve months before his death and added: "He was supported by members of staff to the best of their capacity under the circumstances, but did not always engage. There was no outward indication prior to Scott's death that he had an increased risk of suicide at that time.

"Scott's aim was to be transferred to another prison in the North. At the time of Scott's death, there were inadequate staffing levels and the continuing length of his sentence was uncertain."

Speaking after his inquest, Michelle, a mum-of-four and retired nurse said her brother had tried to take his own life in 2016. She said he wasn't monitored properly and had been moved across 30 different prisons since he was jailed in 2005.

She added: "For over 200 days prior to his death he hadn’t left his cell – in seven months he never came out of his cell for a shower, exercise, nothing. I want these IPP sentences reviewed – they were abolished in 2012 and 10 years later people are still in prison on them.”

The most recent statistics from the Ministry of Justice show 2,852 IPP prisoners remain behind bars - including 1,227 who have never been released. Baroness Fox of Buckley has tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill which urges the government to commit to a resentence.

The United Group for Reform of IPP - a campaigning group - said given the IPP was introduced in 2005, Scott is likely to have one of the longest sentences. The MoJ did not respond to a request for comment.