Friday, January 24, 2014
A young man jailed for a string of arson attacks has been found dead in his prison cell.
Steven Trudgill, 23, of Harbord Crescent, Great Yarmouth, was serving his sentence at HMP Highpoint, in Stradishall, Suffolk.
He was found dead at 9.34pm on Thursday, January 9, and it is understood he was found hanged.
Trudgill had been jailed for 23 arson attacks as a youth, and after he was released he caused more than £500,000 of damage in another spree.
He was 18 years old when he endangered 100 lives by setting fire to a campervan parked in Albert Road, Yarmouth. The fire spread to a nearby workshop, destroying the premises along with five vehicles and several giro planes.
He admitted the offences and a judge at Norwich Crown Court sentenced him to four years and four months in prison at a hearing on March 24, 2009.
A psychiatric report compiled at the time showed no significant mental illness behind his offending.
His earlier attacks had mainly involved setting light to skips, wheelie bins and hedges, but he had been eventually caught after a blaze at a deserted pub near Yarmouth.
Trudgill’s family have paid tribute to him, writing: “Your spirit now soars high and free from the fear that gripped you tight. Your tortured mind now clear and calm. We will love and miss you always.”
A further message read: “Our lives without you in it will never be the same again. We will miss you every single day.”
And his siblings wrote: “We will never forget your cheeky personality or the many happy, funny and mischievous memories we have of you.”
An inquest into Trudgill’s death was formally opened yesterday at the Ip-City Centre in Bath Street, Ipswich.
Prison records of deaths from 1978 to 2012 show the last “self-inflicted” deaths at HMP Highpoint were in 2007, when two inmates died.
There have been four natural deaths recorded at HMP Highpoint since 2007, which happened respectively in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
By comparison, at Norwich Prison there have been eight “self-inflicted” deaths since 2007 and 24 natural deaths.
Norwich has an operational capacity of 769, compared with 1,323 at Highpoint.
A prison service spokesman said: “We are committed to reducing the number of deaths in prisons and strenuous efforts are made to learn from each one.
“Every death is subject to an investigation by the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) as well as a coroner’s inquest.”