Prisoner starved himself after becoming paranoid

A CONVICTED rapist starved himself to death after hearing voices telling him someone was trying to poison him, an inquest heard.

Donald Hall, 39, died in October 2003 after refusing food and drink for four months, Wakefield Coroner's Court heard.

The former hospital porter, of Dunsley Terrace, South Kirkby, had been remanded at Armley Prison, Leeds, in June 2003 for allegedly raping a woman.

It came only five years after he finished a six-year prison term for raping a different woman, the jury was told.

A statement by his sister, Brenda Russell, said Hall started starving himself after complaining his food was being tampered with. The statement said: "Donald said people were poisoning his food and there were voices in his head."

Mrs Russell added: "He really believed these voices that were telling him they were doing something to his food."

In a series of letters from prison, Hall told Mrs Russell he had had enough of his life and wanted to "go to mum," in reference to his dead mother.

The court heard Hall – who made previous suicide attempts – dropped from 70kg to about 40kg during his time in prison.

Because of mental problems he exhibited he was transferred to Newton Lodge secure psychiatric unit at Fieldhead Hospital,Wakefield.

But he continued to refuse food and drink and was eventually taken to Pinderfields Hospital, where he died of pneumonia caused by starvation on October 6, 2003.

A statement from Sandra Hall, Mr Hall's wife at the time of his death, said that she believed part of the reason he starved himself was because he was sorry for his criminal past.

The statement said the couple met in Pontefract in 1991 while Hall was still married to his first wife.

They started a relationship, but Hall was jailed for rape the following year.

While he was still inside they got married, but when he was released in 1998 Mrs Hall said her husband was a "changed man."

He became increasingly paranoid and behaved in a "perverted" way in their sex life. Hall was arrested for rape and indecent assault in 2003.

Mrs Hall continued to visit him in prison, but on one occasion Hall pleaded with her to "let me go".

The jury returned a narrative verdict, with the cause of death given as pneumonia caused by starvation.