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Wendell Baxter’s death at Westgate ruled a suicide

Respected coach and footballer: Wendell “Woolly” Baxter committed suicide at Westgate Correctional Facility in June 2017, just days after being sentenced to 11 years in prison in the wake of admitting a string of sex offences against young boys over several decades (File photograph)

A paedophile who died within ten days of being jailed was determined to have died by suicide.

The jury overseeing an inquest into the death of Wendell “Woolly” Baxter reached their findings yesterday after less than 90 minutes of deliberation.

But Elizabeth Christopher, representing the Baxter family who called for the coroner’s inquest, said that there was a missed opportunity to see how the prison could avoid similar incidents.

Ms Christopher said the jury was directed to decided whether Baxter had died by suicide or by “misadventure”, which would be an accidental death caused by negligence on his part.

She added: “A more general inquiry needs to be done into inmate deaths, so that we can identify systems that might prevent this in the future.”

Baxter, 59, was sentenced to 11 years at Westgate Correctional Facility in June 2017 after pleading guilty to a string of sex offences against young boys over several decades.

Prior to his conviction, Baxter had been a well-respected footballer and coach.

However, just ten days after he was incarcerated, he died in his maximum security prison cell.

Inspector Stanley Roberts Jr, the officer in charge of the case, told the inquest yesterday that he was contacted about an unnatural death at Westgate shortly after 1am on July 2, 2017.

“My team and I had learnt that an inmate who I knew to be Quinton Wendell Baxter had taken his own life,” he said.

The officer said he spoke to prison officers, collected both an occurrence book and a night patrol book and reviewed CCTV footage from the prison.

As a result of the investigation, he saw no fault in the action of corrections officers and that, as far as he was aware, officers had acted according to the facility’s policies.

Questioned by Elizabeth Christopher, Mr Roberts said he had not been provided with Baxter’s medical records.

The inquest had earlier heard evidence from prison officer Jonathan James, who said that at 11.30pm on July 1, 2017, he had seen Baxter jump off a chair in his cell.

He said that he ran back to the wing’s control room, raised the alarm, picked up the cell keys, and then went back to Baxter’s cell to see if he could give assistance.

CCTV footage from that night showed Mr James returned to the scene in less than a minute and then spent a further minute administering CPR to Baxter.

The autopsy report, filed by Emyr Owen, found Baxter had died from “acute heart failure due to hanging”.

Several prison officers told the inquest that Baxter was not considered a suicide risk at the time of his death and that they had not seen anything to trigger the prison’s suicide prevention policies.

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