SAY HER NAME: Sarah Reed was found unresponsive in her prison cell
LEADING RACE relations activist Lee Jasper is at the forefront of a campaign demanding to know what happened to black British woman Sarah Reed who was found dead in her cell last month.
Reed, 32, was on remand at HMP Holloway when she was found unresponsive on the morning of January 11.
Prior to being imprisoned, Reed was a victim of police brutality when she was dragged and punched by a former police constable James Kiddie in November 2012.
The horrific ordeal was caught on CCTV camera and resulted in the dismissal of PC Kiddie who was handed 150 hours of community service and a fine.
Kiddie was previously investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, for deploying tear gas during protests in Oxford Street in January 2011.
In a detailed blog post, former mayoral senior policy advisor Jasper unearths harrowing details of how a black woman who battled with mental illness wound up in the British prison system.
According to his source, Jasper said that Reed had “been a victim of an attempted rape in Maudsley (psychiatric hospital) and that when she fought off her attacker, injuring him, the staff called the police. It was Sarah who ended up being arrested.”
Reed was charged with grievous bodily harm with intent over the incident and rather than being released back into a secure hospital, she was held on remand at Holloway until her death.
Jasper says Reed’s relatives claimed they were not allowed to see her body during a visit to the prison.
FINAL JOURNEY: Sarah's casket is taken to the burial ground
The incident has refocused the profile of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK with many using the hashtag #SayHerName to share the story.
A Prison Service spokesperson said in a statement to The Voice: “HMP Holloway prisoner Sarah Reed (DOB 22/06/83) was found unresponsive in her cell at 8am on January 11.
“Prison staff attempted CPR, but she was pronounced dead shortly after.
“As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”
The Voice contacted the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman who confirmed that an investigation was underway which would provide answers to some of the more serious accusations including the suggestion that Reed was not being given medication for her mental illness.
At an intimate funereal service held for the mother-of-one on Monday (Feb 8), Reed was described as a vibrant, “intelligent and funny woman” to all who knew her.
Delivering a moving tribute to her “amazing” daughter, Marilyn Reed said her life “will never be the same” since her daughter’s death.
Supported by Reed’s teenage daughter, the pair fought through tears to tell of a woman with a big heart.
“She often attracted people who sometimes took advantage of her good nature, but if ever she discovered them she would be swift to rebuke them but forgive also, this was one of her weaknesses – suffering fools gladly,” Marilyn went on.
Sharing his fondest memories of their childhood and time growing up in Yorkshire, her brother Anthony Reed, who delivered the eulogy, said it was “one of the hardest things I believe I’ve ever had to do”.
He continued: “She would have been overwhelmed at all the beautiful flowers. Most of all she would have been overwhelmed by all the love of her family and friends in this room today that are here to celebrate her life. Sarah was not only beautiful on the outside, she was a beautiful soul, she also saw the beauty in others around her.”
Detailing the difficulties that his sister faced, Anthony said the loss her baby daughter served as the catalyst that forever changed her.
He explained: “In 2003, Sarah had a second beautiful daughter and for the first few months lived in absolute bliss with her two children and partner. Unfortunately life would deal my sister a cruel blow that she would never recover from and that was the loss of her second child after only six months of life. My sister soldiered on.”
He added: “To the outside world she put on a brave face but actually in reality she had internalised her grief. She spent the next 12 years of her life facing many ups and downs.
“In good times she always brightened up the room she entered with her big smile and infectious laugh.”
Overwhelmed with emotion a devastated Anthony was joined by family who consoled him as he gathered himself to the complete his eulogy.
“I am a better person today because she was part of my life. I am honoured to be her brother,” he said.