A MAN found dead in a prison cell after being accused of trying to murder two schoolboys had a history of depression, overdoses and violence against children, an inquest heard.
Richard Walsh, 43, had been homeless for four months and was living in a tent in woods in Southleigh Road, Havant when he was arrested over the stabbing of the boys, 12 and 13, on June 26 last year.
Police held him in custody at Waterlooville station for eight hours – after arresting him at 3pm – before he was assessed by an approved mental health practitioner.
Social worker Richard Padgham told jurors at the inquest Walsh had refused to remove a blanket he was hiding under during the assessment with two doctors but that he found no signs to say Walsh either needed or did not need to be sectioned at a mental health hospital.
Father-of-six Walsh was found dead in his cell at HMP Belmarsh on July 19, 2015, Southwark Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.
He had been charged with the attempted murder of the two boys, a connected assault on another person and an earlier robbery and died before he entered any pleas at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Mr Padgham said he had access to records about Walsh prior to the assessment.
Speaking about what he called Walsh’s ‘pattern’ of violence against adults and children, Mr Padgham said: ‘He’d bitten children and held children.
‘He grabbed a nine-year-old by the neck and bit them on several occasions breaking their skin and made comments to professionals that it was acceptable to harm children.’
The court heard a detective handed over details about Walsh to Mr Padgham, who had not looked at the custody logs.
Cross-examining the Hampshire County Council social worker, Richard Reynolds, for the family, said: ‘The custody log says at about 6pm on the 26th, Richard Walsh had been talking about conspiracy theories, about a spaceship in space with the Queen, Area 51, UFOs spying for the government. Those are potentially very relevant.’
Mr Padgham agreed but replied: ‘When it comes to decision-making you can only make it on the information available to you.’
Jurors were told Walsh was once sectioned in 2008 under the Mental Health Act after becoming violent following an overdose.
The court heard Walsh had previously attempted suicide and been prescribed an anti-depressant by his GP in 2015.
His mother Linda, known as Lily, said her son had attended a special school, had been known to police since the age of 11, and was paranoid people were out to get him when he was an adult.
Mrs Walsh said she had been told all of his belongings had been stolen and he had been tormented while homeless.
In her statement read by senior coroner Dr Andrew Harris she said: ‘He had been bullied and tormented by young boys. It seems to me something must have happened to tip him over the edge to act that way.’
Mrs Walsh told jurors her son had a ‘heart of gold’ and was good with children.
The court heard at the time of his arrest Walsh had given no motive for the alleged attacks. Jurors heard he had taken legal highs earlier in the day. The inquest is due to last four weeks.