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Nancy Wilson

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Man sentenced after death of prison inmate

A man has today (Friday, December 18) been sentenced after admitting to assaulting a fellow prison inmate who later died.

Joshua Kettle (pictured), 30, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison at Preston Crown Court after attacking Richard Hamill, 39, at HMP Lancaster Farms last year.

Police had been called around 6.15pm on June 23, 2019, to reports a prisoner had been assaulted by another inmate, suffering a serious head injury. The victim, Mr Hamill, from Morecambe, was taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment but sadly died on June 28.

Following CCTV enquiries detectives found Kettle had approached Mr Hamill, leaning against a pool table in a recreation room, before striking him once in the chest.

Mr Hamill sadly collapsed and never regained consciousness.

Kettle was initially arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with the incident and released under investigation pending further enquiries.

A Home Office post-mortem found Mr Hamill had died after being struck to the chest, suffering a ‘blood hammer effect’, where a pressure surge travelled upstream within the blood vessels to the base of the brain.

Mr Hamill had a pre-existing natural disease, known as a Berry aneurysm, with two aneurysms identified during the post-mortem.

One of the aneurysms, next to the cerebral artery, had ruptured, with blood leaking into the brain causing a subarachnoid haemorrhage. This caused Mr Hamill to collapse, fall unconscious and sadly later die.

The post-mortem gave the subarachnoid haemorrhage and ruptured Berry aneurysm as the causes of death.

Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, Kettle was further arrested and charged with manslaughter in March.

He pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

Det Chief Insp Gareth Willis, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation Team: “Mr Hamill’s death was both tragic and entirely avoidable.

“He was approached by the offender and without warning was struck once to the chest, suffering catastrophic and fatal injuries.

“The prosecution accepted, based on the evidence, that Joshua Kettle never intended to kill or cause really serious harm. However his actions were clearly reckless and resulted in the death of Mr Hamill.

"The death has had a huge impact on Mr Hamill's friends and family. I can only hope his acceptance of guilt and the subsequent sentence offers some comfort to them and provides closure to what has been a very sad and tragic incident.

“My thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”

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