Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Rough Justice

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Rough Justice

Article excerpt

Daniel Roque Hall is a disabled man who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in June after being arrested at Heathrow airport with cocaine hidden in his wheelchair.

Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich's ataxia, an inherited disease that causes damage to the nervous system. It limits the movement in his limbs, affects his heart and makes it hard for him to swallow. You might wonder how he's getting on after a couple of months in prison. The answer is that he's just left the intensive care unit at University College Hospital.

On 24 June, at Roque Hall's sentencing, the judge at Isleworth Crown Court said he couldn't be sent to prison unless the prison could meet his needs. Wormwood Scrubs received the relevant information from Roque Hall's consultants: both his neurologist and endocrinologist said he'd deteriorate without constant, individual care.

Roque Hall had only been in the prison's health wing for two hours when, left alone on a medical examination couch, he fell off and hit his head on the floor following a muscle spasm.

Instead or being taken to hospital, Private Eye reported last month, he was taken to a care home for the elderly and those with dementia. No one told the staff there that he had hit his head, or that he was taking blood-thinning medication. Instead security staff sat chained to him until the care home later arranged a transfer to hospital.

Two days later he was taken back to Wormwood Scrubs. The intention was for him to continue serving his sentence. Prison staff had been given a clear description of Roque Hall's required care in detailed consultant reports; yet his mother, Anne, told me that none of these needs were met. Roque Hall has to exercise in order to maintain his muscle mass, because his diaphragm muscles are compromised by his neurological disease. However, she says that staff were either unwilling or unable to carry out these extensive exercises. …

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