The gory details of how a Ghanaian business man, Prince Fosu died naked, in a filthy isolated UK immigration cell
London, March 3, 2020 (AltAfrica)– An inquest has exposed gory details of how a Ghanaian business man, 31 year old Prince Fosu Kwabena died in a dehumanising manner at an immigration centre in United Kingdom, UK
The jury unanimously concluded that neglect and a series of gross failures by the Home Office and other agencies of UK government contributed to the death of the vulnerable Ghanaian man who died in immigration centre from hypothermia, dehydration and malnutrition
More worrisome in the damning report is the conclusion the late prince Fosu died “in plain sight” of people who should show care but did nothing. Coroner Chinyere Inyama said that “almost unbelievably” Mr Fosu died “in plain sight” of many people at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre
The jury at West London Coroner’s Court found that procedures to protect vulnerable detainees at the centre were “grossly ineffective”. Agencies running the centre and its healthcare failed to recognise, monitor and respond to the worsening condition of someone who was unable to look after himself
Stripping the bedding and mattress from his cell without any lawful written authority was an indication of the “casual approach” of centre staff to Mr Fosu’s welfare, the jury said in its conclusions.
Fosu, 31, from Ghana, died at Harmondsworth IRC near Heathrow on 30 October 2012. After six days in segregation, he was found naked and without bedding in a cell peppered with debris. He had been suffering from psychosis. Malnutrition, dehydration and hypothermia contributed to his death.
Checks on his wellbeing every 15 minutes at Harmondsworth showed no evidence that he had eaten, drunk or slept over his six days there.
He was seen lying naked on a cold concrete floor, in unsanitary conditions, behaving “bizarrely”, not communicating with anyone and with no bedding or mattress.
During the inquest hearing, a member of the Independent Monitoring Board, Tony Smith, told the jury: “Mr Fosu died in plain sight. We let him down big time.”
As well as the IMB, other interested parties in the case before the coroner Chinyere Inyama included the Home Office, contractors Mitie and GEO, and the chief constable of Northampton police. Three doctors, Wesley Joseph, Anna Sharif and Kirpal Singh, face a review of the way they cared for Fosu by the General Medical Council.
Mr Fosu had arrived in the UK from Ghana in April 2012 on a valid business visa, but it was cancelled at Heathrow Airport. He appealed but in September 2012, his appeal was rejected and subsequently developed mental health issues
In October, he was arrested after passer-by called police after seeing him walking naked on a road in Kettering, Northamptonshire. At Corby police station, officers said he continued to act bizarrely and kept undressing, but medical professionals said he did not need to be sectioned.
BBC reports that a CCTV footage from within the station recorded him being told: “You’re going to an immigration centre. They are going to look after you. Yeah?”
Six days later he was dead in a filthy isolation cell at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.
At the centre, healthcare services were in “chaos” after the previous provider had been “sacked” the year before, a healthcare manager told the inquest.
A nurse assessed Mr Fosu in five minutes without seeing his medical notes, later telling the inquest she had done a “completely inadequate assessment” and was “out of her depth”.
Mr Fosu was seen by a cellmate to be acting oddly and talking to himself in the mirror. When approached by staff, Mr Fosu assaulted one of them and had to be restrained by at least three officers.
The jury heard evidence that suggested he barely ate. Records showed that he drank a sip of tea and he appeared to sleep for only 45 minutes in six days.
In less than a week, he lost 18 pounds (8kg), weighing 7 stone 6 pounds (47kg) when he died.
Detention centre staff records referred to him shuffling on his bottom, talking to himself in a language people couldn’t understand, defecating in his cell and throwing food.
Staff told the inquest they thought he was protesting about his removal, but no-one asked him about his behaviour.
Because he urinated in his police cell before his transfer, he was labelled a “dirty protester”.
The inquest heard that there were five layers of subcontracting in the provision of healthcare for detainees.
The Home Office contracted the running of the centre to GEO Group UK Ltd, which contracted healthcare to Nestor Primecare Services Ltd.
It in turn contracted the recruitment of doctors to The Jersey Practice – a GP surgery in west London – which used a locum agency, Beacon Care Services Ltd.
The jury said police, Home Office staff and GEO staff all failed to spot Mr Fosu’s worsening condition and behaviour.
GEO staff showed a “casual approach” to his welfare when they removed his bedding and mattress, which contributed to his hypothermia, they concluded.
‘Ineffective and inadequate’
The jury said the failure of Primecare staff to effectively provide healthcare to Mr Fosu was “inexplicable”, while the GPs showed “insufficient professional curiosity”.
The Independent Monitoring Board, which was at the centre to monitor standards, was “ineffective and inadequate”, the jury also concluded.
Detention centre staff repeatedly said at the inquest that they expected healthcare staff to identify problems with detainees.
The jury heard that Steve Scott, head of residence for GEO, had told an investigation into the death that he thought at the time that Mr Fosu was a “prat”.
Mental health nurse Lesley Dube said he could not remember seeing Mr Fosu but had written in detention centre notes that he had no mental health issues.
He told the inquest he had not carried out a full mental health assessment, nor was he asked to.
During Prince Fosu’s time in isolation, he was seen by four family doctors, who were unfamiliar with all relevant detention centre rules and could not recall seeing Mr Fosu face-to-face in his cell.
Two of those doctors made no notes about him in the GP records, while the other two noted he had declined to be seen but did not assess whether he was well enough to make that decision.
The BBC has learned that three of these family doctors have since been referred to their regulator, the General Medical Council.
The Home Office conceded it had failed Mr Fosu with “tragic consequences”, the jury heard.
Philip Riley, director of detention and escorting services in immigration enforcement, said at the time staff did not have sufficient training or know how to manage detainees with potentially complex mental health issues, adding that the centre was severely short-staffed.
A Home Office investigation identified learning opportunities on detainees in segregation and food and fluid refusal policies. A key failure identified had been healthcare and Home Office staff not seeing Mr Fosu in person.
The Crown Prosecution Service had decided to charge GEO Group UK Ltd and Nestor Primecare Services Ltd with breaches in health and safety legislation but the charges were dropped in 2018.
Since 2014, healthcare in removal centres has been commissioned by NHS England.
But lawyers and charities working with detainees told the BBC they were still seeing cases where centres do not recognise the seriousness of mental illnesses and failings like some of those in the case of Mr Fosu recur.
Prince Fosu father, Prince Charles Obeng, told the BBC it had always been his son’s wish to come to the UK.
Now he is buried in a south London cemetery alongside three others, his father was told. There is a plaque with his name marking the grave, but Mr Obeng wants the government to pay for a headstone.
“If someone is placed in an immigration centre, you have to check whether the person is eating, whether the person is sleeping, whether the person is sick – you try to take care of the person,” he told the BBC.
At his grave, Mr Obeng tells his son he prays that God will give him a better place to stay.