Terror suspect 'inspired by Guy Fawkes' took his own life days after arrest in Leeds

A double cell inside HMP Leeds
-Credit: (Image: HM Inspectorate of Prisons)

A terrorism suspect who is said to have taken his inspiration from gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes took his own life in Leeds prison soon after he was arrested by armed police.

Benjamin Hyland, 29, formerly of Yeadon, was found dead in his cell at HMP Leeds on December 11, 2022, after he had been remanded in custody charged with 11 Terrorism Act offences. He was accused of purchasing chemicals with the intention of making explosives and attempting to create a 3D-printed firearm.

An inquest jury sitting at Wakefield Coroners' Court returned a suicide verdict on Tuesday.

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Hyland, who was born in Devon and moved to Leeds in his 20s, was arrested in the city after police received information he had bought sulphur powder, hexamine tablets, hydrogen peroxide, citric acid and potassium nitrate the month before.

The offences against him included that he encouraged terrorism on social media under the guise of the English Republican Army. A court hearing after his arrest heard that Hyland had "praised Guy Fawkes for his use of gunpower".

His previous convictions were said to include battery and being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog causing injury.

On Monday, Hyland's former partner, known as 'Lou', said she had last seen him alive on the morning of his arrest when armed police smashed their way into their house in Leeds. She described him as an unemployed farm worker at the time of his death.

Following his death, she had raised concerns about how Mr Hyland, who was in custody for the first time, may have struggled to cope after being moved from police custody to HMP Leeds as he "would not be able to cope in that environment". A relative had told her that while in prison Mr Hyland had been 'very agitated'.

Lou said that Mr Hyland had been told by social services that he could not speak to their children.

"I think this was the final straw for Ben," she added. The inquest was told that, while in police custody, Mr Hyland had banged his head on a door which he had done out of 'frustration'.

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When asked why he had smashed his head on the door, Mr Hyland had told a prison officer: "Them b*****s were winding me up - they did my head in."

A prison officer at Leeds told the inquest that when Mr Hyland came into the jail he came across as 'very outgoing', 'very jovial' and confident in his manner.

The hearing was told that prison staff did not instigate anti-suicide/self harm procedures, known as ACCT, as they did not believe it was necessary. A report from the Prisons Ombudsman is expected to be published in due course.