Teenager took her own life despite '¨self-harm warning

A teenager hanged herself while on remand after being locked up alone in a cell with a double bunk bed '“ despite previous concerns about her self-harming, a court has been told.
Katie Allan was found dead in her cell in Polmont  in June. Picture: Family handout/PA WireKatie Allan was found dead in her cell in Polmont  in June. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire
Katie Allan was found dead in her cell in Polmont in June. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire

Dionne Kennedy, 19, was found dead at Cornton Vale Prison, Stirling, after appearing in court accused of threatening and abusive behaviour.

She was remanded in custody and placed in the double-bunk cell where she was able to fasten a makeshift noose.

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Lawyers for her family claim jail bosses should have been aware she had mental health issues and considered placing her in a more suitable cell.

She had previously served a sentence at the jail, Scotland’s only all-female prison, for carrying a knife, which her family say she would only have ever used to harm herself.

The hearing comes among concerns about “spiralling” numbers of suicides in Scottish jails.

Victims include 21-year-old Glasgow University student Katie Allan, who was found dead in Polmont Young Offenders Institution, near Falkirk, in June after being jailed for a drink-driving hit-and-run which left a 15-year-old schoolboy unconscious, and William Lindsay, 16, also known as William Brown, who killed himself at the same institution last month after being remanded in custody.

There are also concerns about the length of time it takes the Crown to get fatal accident inquiries to court.

Solicitor Gregor Forbes, for Dionne’s mother, Margaret Dryden, told a fatal accident inquiry preliminary hearing yesterday that Dionne, from Kilwinning, Ayrshire, had been prescribed anti-depressants during her period of remand amid concerns about her self-harming and about a previous suicide attempt.

He said: “The principal concern of her mother is what level of risk assessment was carried out.”

It has taken over four years for the inquiry to come to court. Dionne died in October 2014, and the evidence stage of the probe, at Stirling Sheriff Court, will not start until 12 December.

Mrs Dryden, 51, will give evidence about her daughter.

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Mrs Dryden said last month that she had been “tormented” by the length of time it had taken the Crown Office to begin the fatal accident inquiry.

And she told a Sunday newspaper: “Dionne wasn’t a danger to anyone but herself.

“She was raped when you was 13 and the trauma of that left her with terrible issues.

“She needed help and support but instead she was thrown in a prison cell with no support on remand for a silly breach of the peace.”