A YOUNG prisoner who died after being found unresponsive in his cell had used the drug spice, an inquest was told.

Luke Morris Jones died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital on March 31, 2018.

The 22-year-old had at that time been a serving prisoner at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham.

At a resumed inquest into his death John Gittins, coroner for north Wales (east and central), set out the circumstances leading up to Mr Jones’ death.

In 2016 Mr Jones had been sentenced at Caernarfon Crown Court to four years imprisonment following a robbery.

On March 26, 2018 his suicide risk was assessed and he was placed under constant observation as part of an ACT (assessment care in custody team plan).

Then on March 30, following an assessment, the observations were reduced to four per hour. The following day they were reduced further to two an hour.

Shortly after 5.30pm on March 31, Mr Jones was visited by prison staff and all appeared to be in order, Mr Gittins said, but when prison officer Gordon Smith checked in on him just before 6.10pm he found him slumped unresponsive on the floor covered in vomit.

He was conveyed to Wrexham Maelor Hospital but was pronounced dead just minutes after arrival.

Crime scene investigators visited Mr Jones’ prison room and discovered a kettle had been taken apart. Mr Gittins said it was known prisoners could use the kettle cables to create a spark.

It was believed the items had been used to ignite paper ‘impregnated’ with the drug commonly known as spice, which had been smoked through a makeshift ‘bong’ made from a milk container.

The inquest heard Mr Jones had also been known to harm himself and had already been involved with the prison’s mental health team.

In a statement read out by the coroner, David Jones said he was not aware of his son Luke having any mental health difficulties before he went into prison.

Mr Jones said he did not understand why prison staff had decided to reduce the levels of observation prior to his son’s death and described him as a “jolly person” who will be missed by his family.

Dr Brian Rodgers, home office pathologist, carried out a post mortem examination on Mr Jones’ body.

He said his examinations revealed no evidence of underlying natural diseases, though toxicology tests confirmed the presence of a synthetic cannabinoid.

Dr Rodgers said spice is known to promote fatal cardiac arrhythmia, and that in his view Mr Jones’ death had been caused by ventricular cardiac arrhythmia due to synthetic cannabinoid, or spice, use.

Thomas Cummings was one of the first people on the scene once the code blue was reported.

Asked whether he had noticed the improvised ‘bong’ and paraphernalia in Mr Jones’ cell when responding to the code blue, Mr Cummings said he hadn’t.

Andrew Bridgman, representing Mr Jones’ family, asked whether staff were aware generally of the method outlined by the coroner, in which drugs were ignited with the kettle wires.

He said he had heard of the practice, but not seen it for himself firsthand before.

The inquest continues.