A detainee found hanged whilst in immigration detention had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and previously set fire to his own cell, an inquest heard. 

Tome Kirungi, 30, was found dead in his cell at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre on Portland on August 6, 2015. 

The jury inquest, sitting in County Hall in Dorchester, heard that at around 8am that morning, staff were carrying out routine checks of the cells when they found Mr Kirungi, known as Thomas, slumped by his bed with a ligature wound to his neck. 

Assistant coroner for Dorset Stephen Nicholls told the inquest that Mr Kirungi, a Ugandan international, was diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia in 2007 after he started hearing voices. 

After this Mr Kirungi was convicted of “a number of offences”, including an assault on his girlfriend when he was handed a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence after which he was told he would be deported.

Whilst in custody at another prison, it was said that he set fire to his own cell and attempted to make a ligature. He was transferred to the Verne in September 2014.

Mark Butler, an officer working at the Verne at the time of Mr Kirungi’s death, carried out a review with Mr Kirungi in July 2015 following reports that he was being bullied and had been assaulted in the centre’s internet suite. 

He said: “At that stage I didn’t feel there were any issues over self-harm or suicide. 

“He was moved to a quieter cell where they run a more supportive regime. It was a long distance away from the internet suite and shop.

“In my opinion he had taken a positive step towards getting support.”

Mr Butler said that information about Mr Kirungi’s previous self harm attempts and schizophrenia diagnosis were not listed on the prison’s information systems. 

This was echoed by four other officers interviewed during yesterday’s inquest proceedings. 

Mr Kirungi was also a user of the drug Spice, a synthetic cannabinoid, it was said.

Mr Butler said he believed that someone with mental health issues would “be more susceptible” to the negative effects of the drug. 

Maurice Gee, another centre officer, said that Mr Kirungi was “happy go lucky” when he arrived at the centre, but his use of Spice would impact his mood.

No officer would comment on how many detainees they think may have been using Spice at the time. 

The inquest continues.