CHELMSFORD Prison and Essex Social Services have been criticised at the end of an inquest into the death of a teenage prisoner.

Joker Idris was found hanged in his cell at the prison on Christmas Day, in 2007.

The jury returned a verdict that the 18-year-old Sudanese national killed himself after a five-day hearing at Chelmsford.

However, they added a narrative to the verdict that both authorities had failed in their care of him.

They found in December 2007 the prison failed to have in place a formal and managed system for the delivery of deportation documents to prisons, and social services had also failed to provide assessed care and support to Mr Idris after his 18th birthday.

After the verdict was announced, Kirsten Heaven, barrister for Mr Idris’s family, said: “We are very happy with the verdict.

“The family have always believed Joker was abandoned by social services and the prison and left in custody for six months.

“They were under a legal obligation to support him in prison after 18. The prison and social services let him down.”

The inquest had heard Mr Idris was served with deportation papers on Christmas Eve.

He had been given a 12-month prison sentence for affray in December 2007, but because of time spent in custody since July, he was due to be released on January 7, 2008.

The papers were given to him by prison officer Michael Clarke, who told the court Joker was confused by their content.

He said he could not understand why he would not be released on that date, but would be kept in prison until he was deported.

In a statement, prisoner James Brown told the inquest Joker had told him he would be killed if he returned to Sudan and he said he would rather die in this country than go back to his homeland.

Lindsay Whitehouse, deputy governor at the prison, had told the inquest a written national policy had been introduced in May 2008, following a review in 2007. The system was for deportation papers to be handed out to the prisoner. Now the papers are delivered in a formal meeting and the prisoner’s response monitored.

Julie Bridger, a senior manager of the aftercare team of social services, had also told the hearing that Mr Idris had come to their attention in May 2006 as an unaccompanied asylum- seeking child and allocated a social worker, but that support stopped when he became 18 in March 2007.

His file was closed on October 23 that year.

A week later, social services introduced a new written policy that meant Mr Idris, whose last address was in Harlow, would have been legally entitled to post-18 support and, under the new policy, social services would have undertaken a thorough needs procedure.