AN INQUEST into the death of a prisoner has ruled although it was accidental, it could have been prevented.

The ruling means that in the past two years, there have been contributing factors in the deaths of three inmates at Chelmsford Prison.

Timothy Shaw, 34, from Basildon, was found unconscious in his cell at HMP Chelmsford on February 28, last year. He was rushed to hospital, but died two days later of a brain injury caused by drug toxicity.

Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard that the Mr Shaw, who had a history of drug abuse, died after smoking a morphine patch in his cell.

The jury unanimously found the death to be an accident. However, they also agreed that, with better communication and more resources, Mr Shaw’s welfare could have been better managed and his untimely death avoided.

Action plans will be submitted to the prison service to advise on preventing similar deaths.

Chelmsford Coroners Court heard Mr Shaw was a drug user serving a six-year sentence for robbery.

The decision from the inquest is the latest ruling that marks out a concerning trend at the prison.

In the last two years, six prisoners have died with a jury finding serious failings in one of them.

Dean Saunders, also from Basildon, electrocuted himself in his cell in January 2016. The jury concluded he killed himself “while the balance of his mind was disturbed, contributed to by neglect”.

The latest inspection by the Independent Monitoring Board identified several issues with the prison, including prisoners spending hours on end in their cells as well as drug and violence issues.

It also highlighted that assaults on staff had increased by 400 per cent in the last year.

An investigation from the prison ombudsman will be published later this year.

The Ministry of Justice has been contacted for comment.