A coroner will be writing to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and a prison healthcare provider following the death of a man who died while serving time in a Suffolk prison.

On Wednesday, the inquest of Matthew Xavier was brought to a close at Suffolk Coroners' Court in Ipswich.

Mr Xavier died aged 65 from stage four lung cancer at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds on December 16, 2022.

At the time of his death, Mr Xavier was serving time at HMP Highpoint in Stradishall. In evidence heard in court on Tuesday, Mr Xavier’s son, Jade, and a fellow inmate explained how Mr Xavier’s health had been declining since the summer and had particularly worsened in the weeks leading up to December 1, when he was discovered unconscious in his cell.

For the final few weeks he was at Highpoint, Mr Xavier used a wheelchair, and a fellow inmate would bring him each of his meals from the prison servery.

On Tuesday, Mr Xavier’s son told the court he felt that racial prejudice may have played a role in his father’s care and suggested that his father’s frustration may have led to him being stereotyped as being aggressive.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mr Xavier was a serving prisoner at HMP Highpoint when he died. Mr Xavier was a serving prisoner at HMP Highpoint when he died. (Image: Newsquest)

Giving evidence in court on Wednesday was Dr Samantha Bhima, who examined Mr Xavier on September 2 and November 16.

At the November 16 appointment, she said that she had found Mr Xavier “agitated” and “animated”.

However, she said she did not find him aggressive, and had not made any such comments to Mr Xavier or prison officers.

She said it was more the case that the change in his behaviour from his previous appointment had made her concerned for him, and she made a referral to the prison’s mental health team after discussion with colleagues.

"I am very, very conscious of the impact of racism," she said, adding that she had a personal understanding of the consequences of racial prejudice.

In summing up the evidence, assistant coroner Dr Daniel Sharpstone said that he would not be writing a Prevention of Future Deaths report.

However, he will be writing a "letter of concern" to the MoJ and Practice Plus Group, which provides healthcare services in HMP Highpoint.

Dr Sharpstone said that it was a point of concern that Mr Xavier's use of a wheelchair and the fact another inmate was delivering his meals had not been more thoroughly investigated.

He said that it could do no harm for prison staff to have a greater awareness of how they could safeguard inmates' wellbeing.

Dr Sharpstone ended proceedings by ruling that Mr Xavier died from metastatic small cell lung cancer.