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Man took his own life at Inverness Prison days after suicide threat

By Court Reporter

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Zach Banner.
Zach Banner.

A FATAL accident inquiry has heard a man poured petrol over himself and police with the intention of killing himself days before he took his own life at Inverness Prison.

The inquiry at Inverness Sheriff Court heard Zach Banner (22) was found by police looking to serve a warrant on him.

He poured petrol over himself and them on December 28, 2017 and was taken to Burnett Road police station where psychiatric nurses carried out an assessment.

Sheriff Chris Dickson heard from psychiatric nurse Margaret Balfour (55) that although Mr Banner, from Alness, had indicated he would self-harm if remanded and had a history of drug misuse she did not consider he suffered from an acute mental illness.

She said Mr Banner told her “life was not worth living”.

She added: “He wanted to make a better life for himself but could not see how he could do that. He had a relationship breakdown and was back on drugs.”

She concluded he did not have an underlying mental illness and that pouring petrol over himself had been “an impulsive act”.

She said he indicated he would accept the help of the prison mental health team but she had been unaware they were not going to be available until January 3.

Depute fiscal Geoff Main said it was a matter of agreement that Mr Banner was arrested in Firhill, Alness, on December 28 and was found by police who had gone to the address with a warrant.

He said Mr Banner was found crouched beside a quad bike and had splashed petrol over himself and warned officers to back off.

Matches were found in his jacket pocket after he was arrested.

The fiscal said he was seen to be depressed while in custody and said that he would attempt self-harm and suicide.

However, at a case conference held in the prison on December 31, he appeared to have changed his mind.

He said then that he had no intention of self-harming and at 11pm was watching new year celebrations on television.

On January 1, 2018 prison staff were called to his cell and found Mr Banner not breathing.

He was taken to Raigmore Hospital where he subsequently died on January 3.

The inquiry is due to resume on December 16.

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