Prisoner dies after cell blaze

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A PRISONER has died after being overcome by fumes following a blaze in his cell.

Hartlepool man John Cann, 51, died in a fire while on remand at Holme House Prison, in Stockton.

Four fire crews rushed to the jail and used hose reels and breathing apparatus to put out the blaze.

Paramedics attended the prison and battled to save Mr Cann before rushing him to hospital.

He had been rescued from his cell by prison staff and rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees, also in Stockton.

Mr Cann was placed on a life support machine after suffering from smoke inhalation.

But a day later, a decision was made to turn off the machine.

The incident, which took place around 4.40pm on Wednesday, is being investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.

Mr Cann, of Whitby Walk, off Huckelhoven Way, had appeared at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court on Monday accused of two counts of criminal damage to windows, said to have taken place on Monday.

He was remanded in custody at Holme House to appear back before magistrates on Tuesday, November 8.

One unnamed inmate at the prison told the Hartlepool Mail: “His cell was well-alight and full of smoke.

“We thought he was already dead when they brought him out, it was horrible.

“The prison was on shut-down while the incident was dealt with.

“We were meant to be out on association, but had to stay in our cells and couldn’t use the phones.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “HMP Holme House l Turn to Page 2

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prisoner John Cann was removed from a cell fire by prison staff at approximately 4.40pm on Wednesday.

“The fire service extinguished the fire and the prisoner was resuscitated by prison staff and paramedics before being taken to outside hospital and placed on life support.

“A decision to turn off his life support was made on Thursday and he was pronounced dead at 2.35pm.

“As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”

The Ombudsman will investigate Mr Cann’s death but will not publish any findings until after any police investigation and inquest.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Police were notified of an incident by staff at Holme House Prison late on the afternoon of Wednesday.

“A 51-year-old male inmate was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.

“Sadly he later died in hospital.

“Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

“However the circumstances surrounding his death are currently being investigated.”

A North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “We were called at 4.39pm on Wednesday to Holme House Prison. “We received reports that a male was trapped in a smoke-filled cell. “We arrived at the scene and administered CPR on a 51-year-old male who was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees.”

A spokesperson for Cleveland Fire Brigade said three fire engines from Stockton, with one from Thornaby, attended the incident.

Breathing apparatus and hose reels were used to extinguish the fire.

The spokesman said: “There was one male casualty in the cell and we have been informed that sadly he subsequently died.”

Mr Cann’s mother was too upset to talk when approached by the Mail.