Grandfather-of-two 'died with dignity' in hospice while serving life sentence
- Credit: Suffolk police
The family of a West Suffolk grandfather, who was behind bars after holding up a jewellery store with a fake gun, has thanked prison and medical staff for their 'second to none' care before his death.
Lee Devereux passed away in September last year while receiving palliative care at the St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds for liver cancer — diagnosed in January 2020.
The 49-year-old struggled with drug addiction and was sentenced to life imprisonment for an armed robbery at H Samuel in Sudbury in 2002.
Formerly from Long Melford, he absconded from Hollesley Bay open prison in 2013, but handed himself in a few days later and was at HMP Highpoint in Stradishall for his final years.
The inquest into his death concluded at Suffolk Coroner's Court today, hearing from those involved in Mr Devereux's care.
His brother, Brian Devereux, described him as the "joker" of the family, with four children and two grandchildren.
"He had a great sense of humour," he said. "He was a gifted football player who always made friends very easily and had a great passion for music.
"Lee died with dignity and I would like to thank the people at Highpoint for the second to none care they gave him — it will stay with us."
Dr Horst-Dieter Hass, clinical lead at HMP Highpoint, told the court how Mr Devereux had suffered from hepatitis C, type two diabetes and was being monitored for liver cirrhosis.
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A routine scan in January last year found the tumour on his liver and was given six to nine months to live — he was transferred from Ipswich Hospital to the hospice for palliative care in September.
His mother and brother were able to be with him when he died and the prison officers who guarded him during his final days described him as "polite", "pleasant" and "easy to work with".
Dr Hass added: "The prison was very supportive when Mr Devereux had to go to hospital, even though it was a sad diagnosis and prospect, the answer by the prison healthcare staff was really supportive and really good.
"All the nurses had great care and compassion for him, I must say he really had exceptional care."