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UK Prisoner Simon Benson Hangs Self in Gluten-free Food Row
Celiac.com 09/06/2013 - In more downbeat gluten-free news, a convicted murderer was found hanged in his cell at UK's Maidstone Prison, allegedly after his demands for gluten-free meals were rejected.
Prisoner Simon Benson, who is Jewish, and who was serving a sentence for stabbing a man to death, had been receiving given kosher food since his transfer to the town centre jail two months ago. However, he insisted his meals should also be gluten-free.
The prison has refused to comment on reports claiming that officials denied Benson's request because he had no medical documentation to justify receiving gluten-free meals.
Guards found Benson suspended in his room at around 7.30am last Wednesday.
Emergency personnel rushed him to Maidstone Hospital, where he was placed on life support until around 9.10 pm, when doctors decided with his family to remove him from the life support machine.
A Prison Service spokesman said: "As with all deaths in custody, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation."
On Monday, officials opened an inquest into Benson's death, which they then adjourned. The medical cause of death was given as suspension.
A prison spokesman would not comment on reports Benson had been on hunger strike, or that he had a history of self-harm.
As to any role that the denial of gluten-free food might have played in the incident, stay tuned for updates on the inquiry.
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
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