Transgender inmate at Doncaster men's prison attempted to kill herself and complained of being denied hormone medication and prison transfer, inquest told

In the weeks leading up to her death, a transgender women placed in a Doncaster prison for men attempted to kill herself and complained of not being granted requests for hormone medication or a transfer to a women's prison, a court heard.

Jenny Swift was found hanged in her cell at HMP Doncaster on December 30 last year

Doncaster Coroners' Court was told how Jenny Swift attempted to hang herself in her cell at HMP Doncaster on December 6 last year, after being remanded into custody at the men's prison on an attempted murder charge on November 17.

The charge related to an attack on 26-year-old Doncaster dad, Eric Flanagan at a property in Surrey Street, Balby on November 15, 2016.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Despite Swift's attempt to hang herself, Assistant Director for Safer Custody, Rachel Barras, told the court that Swift's self-harm risk was downgraded to 'low' the next morning, following an assessment.

Doncaster dad, Eric Flanagan, 26, died from wounds suffered an unprovoked and 'frenzied attack' carried out by Swift at a property in Surrey Street, Balby on November 15 last year

This was questioned by a jury member in Swift's inquest, who asked Ms Barras: "The file says 'no self-harming behaviour' 14-hours after we know there was self-harming behaviour."

She responded: "It's a whole picture of things we have to take into account, it's not as easy as following a tick sheet. So if that person says to you: 'I'm fine' you've got to take account of these things'."


Doncaster dad, Eric Flanagan, 26, died from wounds suffered an unprovoked and 'frenzied attack' carried out by Swift at a property in Surrey Street, Balby on November 15 last year

Swift's mental state had led to her being the subject of an assessment formally known as a care in custody teamwork (ACCT) shortly after entering the prison. Her ACCT plan said she had to be checked on by a prison officer every 30 minutes.

Swift, 49, was found hanged in her cell in the early hours of December 30.

Mr Flanagan died from the multiple wounds he suffered in what his inquest was told was an 'unprovoked and frenzied' attack at the hands of Swift on December 16, 2016, following the incident on November 15.

The attempted murder charge Swift, of Merseyside, had been remanded into custody for, relating to this incident, was due to be upgraded to murder on January 7 this year, but Swift died before this could take place.

Swift, legally known as Jonathan Swift at the time of her death, had been made aware of the Crown Prosecution Service's intention to upgrade the charge before her death, the inquest was told.

During her six weeks at HMP Marshgate, Equalities and Foreign Nationals Coordinator at the prison, Barry Andrew Wright, told the court that Swift had told him on a number of occasions that she wanted to be transferred to a women's prison and that she wanted to be given access to the hormone medication she had been taking as part of her transition towards becoming a woman.

He told the court she was given several opportunities to attend case review meetings through which issues such as where she was placed would be discussed.

“On the first occasion she refused to attend, and on the second she did attend, but became quite aggressive and abrupt to people on the telephone and said they didn’t understand transgender issues,” Mr Wright told the court.

Ms Barras told the court that the decision to move Swift into a women's prison rested with staff further up in the prison hierarchy, but said she had made a recommendation for Swift to be transferred to a woman's prison.

This information had been passed on to Swift.

And on the day before her death, Mr Wright said Swift had told him she was very pleased about the possibility of being transferred to a women's prison as well as the prospect of having visitors over the upcoming weekend.

The fact the transfer and the necessary medical approval for her to be given hormone medication could take up to a year had been communicated to Swift, Mr Wright explained.

Mr Wright had also seen Swift earlier on in the day on December 29, when they had both been in attendance at a transgender forum held at the prison.

The forum was attended by the prison's three other transgender inmates as well as support workers and one of the assistant director's at the prison.

Mr Wright said Swift had seemed engaged during the meeting, and had even suggested in becoming involved in looking at how the prison process could be improved for transgender inmates.

While general complaints were made about staff being 'rude,' Mr Wright said no major concerns were raised by Swift or any of the other inmates. He added that her general demeanor and behaviour during the interactions he had with Swift on December 29 had not given him any cause for concern.

During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court on January 25 this year, the CPS concluded that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Swift had murdered Eric Flanagan and subsequently closed the case, PC Paul Bracewell said in a statement read out in court.

Swift's inquest is due to conclude at Doncaster Coroners' Court tomorrow.