Prison 'didn't act quick enough' before convicted murderer died from Covid-19, report says

A women's prison near Wakefield has been criticised for not forcing a convicted killer to isolate sooner before she died with Covid-19.

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 12:29 pm
Burkitt was a serving prisoner at HMP New Hall.

Angela Burkitt, 55, was serving a life sentence at HMP New Hall at Flockton for murder, but refused to stop working as a cleaner and move to an isolated wing when the virus began to spread earlier this year.

The report by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman said that Burkitt, who was jailed for murdering her neighbour in 2017, began feeling unwell on April 5 this year, suffering from a fever, but tested negative for Covid-19 and her temperature returned to normal.

Three days later her conditioned worsened and she was taken by ambulance to hospital where she then tested positive for the virus.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She was moved to intensive care on April 14 and put on a ventilator, but died on April 17.

A report into her death found she had died from respiratory failure and Covid-19 pneumonia, although it stated that other health issues, including chronic COPD, hepatitis C and was a former intravenous drug user.

The report read that they were "all factors which did not cause but contributed to her death".

The findings of her death read: "The clinical care that Ms Burkitt received was equivalent to that which she could have expected to receive in the community.

"We are satisfied that from March 29, the prison offered to move Ms Burkitt to a different wing which they were using to shield vulnerable prisoners, which would have reduced her chances of contracting the infection, but that Ms Burkitt refused and opted to remain in her own cell, despite being advised of the risks.

"We are satisfied that Ms Burkitt was taken to hospital promptly when she became unwell.

"We consider that the prison should have required Ms Burkitt to stop working and self-isolate from April 5 when she presented with one of the three major symptoms of Covid-19 -(a high temperature).

"Not doing so put other prisoners and staff at risk - although it did not affect the outcome for Ms Burkitt herself."

The report recommended that the governor and head of healthcare should ensure prisoners or members of staff who developed Covid-19 symptoms follow Public Health England's guidance and self-isolate for 14 days.

Burkitt was sentenced to an minimum 20 years in 2017 for stabbing her Hull neighbour, Joanne Hemingway, in the chest after a long-running feud.

She had denied murder and tried to put the blame on her partner.