The family of a Suffolk prisoner who died from cancer while an inmate say they will continue to “fight for justice” in the wake of an inquest's conclusion.

Matthew Xavier, a serving prisoner at HMP Highpoint in Stradishall, died of metastatic small cell lung cancer, aged 65.

He was discovered unconscious in his cell on December 1, 2022, and was taken to West Suffolk Hospital, where he died on December 16.

His family said they continue to feel the pain of his loss.

“Our family is devastated by the death of Matthew, even more devastated having heard the evidence of the various different staff who were responsible for Matthew’s care whilst at HMP Highpoint,” said Princess Lawrence-Teape, speaking on behalf of herself and her son Jade Xavier, the second eldest of Mr Xavier’s seven children.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mr Xavier had been an inmate at HMP Highpoint from May 2022. Mr Xavier had been an inmate at HMP Highpoint from May 2022. (Image: Newsquest)

She said that his family feel evidence from the inquest showed that Mr Xavier suffered unnecessarily, without having access to appropriate medical attention.

“Whilst not proven as part of this inquest, we as a family also believe that the treatment Matthew experienced was motivated by negative attitudes of the prison and healthcare staff towards black men, based on the evidence heard,” she said.

The court heard that Mr Xavier’s health began to deteriorate from June, when he developed a persistent cough.

From November, his mobility sharply declined, and Mr Xavier required a wheelchair. A fellow inmate told the court how he had carried Mr Xavier up and down staircases, collected each of Mr Xavier’s meals for him and cleaned his cell.

Initially, Mr Xavier’s symptoms were thought to relate to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and he was prescribed steroids and antibiotics in June.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mr Xavier was discovered unconscious in his cell on December 1. Image: NewsquestMr Xavier was discovered unconscious in his cell on December 1. Image: Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

An oncology referral was made on November 21. Giving evidence in court, consultant oncologist Dr Dan Patterson said that by this point, the cancer would have been too late to treat with chemotherapy.

However, he also said that it was impossible to determine when the lung cancer would have become detectable, or when Mr Xavier developed it, small cell lung cancer being known for its rapid, aggressive onset.

Mr Xavier’s family felt that his frustration with clinicians led to him being stereotyped as “an aggressive black man”.

Following the inquest, assistant coroner Dr Daniel Sharpstone will be writing a "letter of concern" to the Ministry of Justice and Practice Plus Group, which provides healthcare services in HMP Highpoint.

Ms Lawrence-Teape concluded: “Matthew was loved, and is missed by his children and family daily. The process surrounding Matthew’s death has left us all heartbroken.

"Two years on, the pain is still there. This is exacerbated by what we have heard during this inquest, which ultimately feels like a list of excuses to distract from what we believe to be malpractice leading to inhumanity to Matthew in his final months.

“We will continue to fight for justice for Matthew, holding those responsible accountable for how he was treated”.