A prisoner released from prison 'by mistake' after a paperwork error was subsequently found dead, a coroner has heard. Jamie Andrews had been sentenced to serve a prison sentence and was also being held on remand for other offences at HMP Bristol.

Guards at the prison 'opened the door and let him out' on 1 December 2022, a coroner said. A lawyer representing the Ministry of Justice said the release was due to 'an error in sending paperwork'.

The 49-year-old, who was then unlawfully at large, was found dead on the streets of Reading, Berkshire, by members of the public three days later.

Ian Wade KC, assistant coroner for Berkshire, said: 'He was ordered to serve a short prison sentence in respect of certain offences for which he was convicted. At the same time, he was to be held in custody to await a further appearance in court in respect of other matters. 

'The evidence gathered so far informs me Jamie was literally let out of Bristol Prison on December 1 2022, some three days before he died. The reality of the situation is that he ought not to have been liberated on December 1. 

'That is no criticism of Jamie. He did not escape. They opened the door and let him out.' But the coroner said the prisoner was 'likely to have known that he had been freed unlawfully or inapropriately'. 

HMP Bristol

The coroner heard of a history of problems at HMP Bristol

Source: Alamy

A post mortem examination found Andrews had died primarily from ischaemic heart disease, but also because of a number of mainly illegal drugs found in his system.

Michael Etienne, representing Andrews' children, said: 'It appears to have been a police officer working within the internal offence management unit in the prison who discovered Jamie had been wrongly released.'

Etienne added that because Andrews was released by mistake, he was technically in state custody at the time he died. HMP Bristol has a history of problems and issues which had been highlighted in recent reports, he argued. 

But Jack Murphy, for the Ministry of Justice, said there was no evidence of any systemic failure within the prison and added Andrews was technically not in state custody at the time of his death.

'As much as there was an error, it is incontrovertible the death occurred when he was not in prison,' Murphy said. 'The reason is an error in sending paperwork. There is no evidence before the court that conditions in the prison had a direct link to the death”, he added.

Wade said a jury would be required for the full inquest.