A MAN who was serving a life sentence after murdering a woman in Darlington died while awaiting compassionate release, a report has revealed.
Joseph Turner was in prison after stabbing grandmother Pamela Turner to death with a steak knife while she was sitting on her sofa at home in the Spring Hill area of Darlington in 2012.
He was convicted of her murder in 2013 and given a minimum court sentence of 15 years.
He died while he was inmate of HMP Frankland, in Durham, where he had been since May 2014.
The 68-year-old died of acute infective chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on August 8, 2019.
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, which investigated the death and published a report in January, concluded that the clinical care Turner received at Frankland was equivalent to that which he could have expected to receive in the community.
Assistant ombudsman Lisa Burrell said Turner, who had been diagnosed with COPD in 2003, had become breathless and agitated on June 29, 2019.
After being admitted to the prison’s healthcare inpatient unit for observation he was then moved to the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND), where he was diagnosed with a chest infection.
On July 5, he told staff he wanted to sign a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) order, which meant that if he stopped breathing he did not want to be resuscitated.
He was discharged and sent back to prison that day.
Later that month, on July 27, his condition worsened and was returned to UHND, where he was diagnosed with sepsis and multiple organ dysfunction.
On July 29, prison staff applied for compassionate release on his behalf.
However, the hospital prognosis letter had another patient’s details referenced in the letter.
As a result, the compassionate release process was delayed while the prison obtained the correct information from the hospital.
On August 3, hospital staff decided to withdraw all active treatment and Mr Turner was placed on palliative end of life care.
Hospital staff considered that a transfer to a hospice was not appropriate and that Mr Turner should remain in hospital until his death.
He died on August 8, before his compassionate release application could be processed.
The PPO made two recommendations following the death – including that the head of Healthcare, Pharmacy Lead and Lead GP at HMP Frankland should conduct a joint review to ensure that the current primary care and pharmacy processes have the flexibility to safely accommodate circumstances where there is a clinical need for increased supplies of inhalers.
The report by Ms Burrell said: “Mr Joseph Turner, who was 68 years old, died of acute infective chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on 8 August 2019, while a prisoner at HMP Frankland.
“We offer our condolences to Mr Turner’s family and friends.
“The clinical reviewer concluded that the clinical care Mr Turner received at Frankland was equivalent to that which he could have expected to receive in the community.”