source: The Independent
published: 4 June 2014
A young asylum seeker has been found dead at a Victorian jail which is still being run as a prison despite only housing people seeking refuge in Britain, The Independent has learnt.
Bruno Dos Santos, who was in his 20s and has a child in the UK, was discovered in his cell at around 7.30am this morning at HMP The Verne, which is on the Isle of Portland in Dorset and dates back to the 1840s.
The prison has been used solely by the Home Office to house asylum seekers since March, but plans to convert it into an immigration removal centre have been put on hold until the autumn – meaning that it is run as a jail and detainees are kept under harsher conditions than normal. Their access to legal advice to advance their cases is also reduced.
It is understood that Mr Dos Santos had been detained for a long time as he was regarded as “stateless” and could not be sent back to his country of origin.
Sources said the prison authorities “strongly” believed that he died of natural causes, but Dorset Police would only say his death had been “sudden” and that the matter had now been referred to the coroner.