Prisoner who died after taking Spice was ‘used as guinea pig by other inmates’

Shabul Ahmed died after taking Spice at HMP Highpoint Prison in Haverhill, Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT

Shabul Ahmed died after taking Spice at HMP Highpoint Prison in Haverhill, Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A vulnerable prisoner died the day after he was given Spice by fellow inmates at a Suffolk prison who used him as a “guinea pig”, an inquest heard.

Shabul Ahmed, who had learning difficulties, collapsed after using the psychoactive drug at HMP Highpoint near Haverhill, a hearing in Ipswich was told.

The 33-year-old was rushed to hospital on July 18, 2016, and returned to the jail later that evening.

Suffolk area coroner Jacqueline Devonish said he was found dead in his cell at 6.25am on July 19 after roll call.

Ahmed was “suspected to have consumed an illicit substance, Spice” before he collapsed the night before, she told the court.

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Fellow inmate Zia Islam, who spent seven months in the cell next to Ahmed, said: “When Spice comes on people thought it was funny just to watch people overdose.

“Some people were being used as guinea pigs.”

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Asked by Ms Devonish if Ahmed was ever a victim of that, he replied: “Yes, that’s what I think happened that day on the 18th.”

When asked why he thought this was the case, Islam said: “The amount of Spice that was used in that spliff, the amount of damage it caused.

“If someone was smoking it for pleasure there’s no way they would have used as much and as powerful.

“I saw people take two puffs and within 10 seconds they were on the floor.”

A cigarette containing the synthetic cannabis was passed around a circle of prisoners in the exercise yard on July 18, he said, replying “yes” when asked by the coroner if Spice was readily available in the jail.

He said Ahmed had been convicted of robbery and “just wanted to do his time”.

“He spent all day watching cookery shows and Tipping Point,” he said, pointing out that Ahmed did not have other friends in the prison.

The inmate said he did not believe Ahmed used Spice in his cell after he returned from hospital as he did not have a lighter.

Ahmed’s sister Nazma Begum said her brother was “caring, loving, and would look after his younger sisters”.

He had previously worked in restaurants, but was “never the same person” after he was jailed for the first time aged 18, she said.

She said her brother’s arms showed signs of heroin use after he was released, but he refused to talk about what happened.

He was jailed on two further occasions, she added.

“I believe my brother was taken advantage of, picked on, used for the way he was really, not being able to read or write,” she said.

The inquest, listed for seven days, continues.

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