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A FRIEND of a Polish migrant who took his own life in a British detention centre has told an inquest “we are human beings not animals.”
Marcin Malicki, who was unable to appear in court after the Home Office deported him, desperately tried to rescue fellow detainee Marcin Gwozdzinski in September 2017.
The pair were held together at the privately run Harmondsworth immigration removal centre near Heathrow airport.
Mr Malicki described the 28-year-old as a “good lad” who was “funny but a little bit lost.”
On September 3 2017 he found his friend hanging in a cell and shouted: “Please don’t die.”
He tried to save him but Mr Gwozdzinski succumbed to his injuries a few days later in hospital.
Mr Malicki said in a statement: “Our friend took his life. For a long time we asked doctors and psychologists for help and it was ignored … It’s a disgrace no-one has been held to account.”
A jury at West London coroner’s court heard evidence today from former detainees, as well as staff from the outsourcing giant Mitie, which runs Harmondsworth under a Home Office contract.
Sandra Ryan, a Mitie security officer, said Mr Gwozdzinski looked “visibly upset” after spending nine months in detention waiting for the authorities to decide his case.
“He was just tired of being in detention and expressed missing his family,” Ms Ryan told the jury.
“He told me he had his mum back in Poland … I tried to encourage him to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, Mr Gwozdzinski told her “I want to die.”
He was placed on suicide watch but the monitoring ended on September 1 despite him asking staff for a razor just hours earlier.
He went on to take his life only two days after staff closed the suicide watch log.
Taimour Lay, the family’s barrister, put to the Mitie officer: “If you had been asked on September 1, you wouldn’t have recommended that they close it?”
“That’s correct,” Ms Ryan replied. “I didn’t expect anything like this to happen.”
Mitie’s contract manager, Paul Rennie, who took charge of Harmondsworth months after the death, said he was responsible for over 1,000 detainees at the site and its adjacent facility.
He said there were between 40 and 50 detainees being monitored for mental health risks every single day, but it was impossible to keep track of everyone’s healthcare needs since the company only had one member of staff for every 20 or 30 detainees.
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