A PRISONER set to stand trial for double murder has been found dead in his cell at HMP Hewell.
Leo Barnes from Balsall Heath in Birmingham was standing trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court accused of killing Cynthia Beamond and London man Philip Silverstone on consecutive days in June last year.
The 33-year-old, who was being detained at the Tardebigge prison, was due to be cross examined by prosecutors on Friday but did not appear in court after complaining of feeling ill.
On Sunday (January 25) he was found hanging in his cell. An investigation into his death will take place, as is standard protocol with all prisons, but it is not deemed to be suspicious.
Det Insp Caroline Corfield from West Midlands Police, who led the murder enquiry, said she was ‘shocked’ to hear of Barnes’ death.
Family liaison officers have been supporting the families of both Cynthia and Philip, and officers have also notified of his next of kin.
Cynthia’s daughter Beverley Hadley said: “We are devastated as a family that the man we believe is responsible for the brutal murder of my beloved Mum is not going to face justice for this horrendous crime.
“On Friday 27 June 2014 my life changed forever when my mum and best friend went missing.
“Without mum, every day of our lives is painful and empty. Every day I wake up thinking about her and believing that this whole nightmare is just a dream, but then the realisation hits me over and over again that it is not a dream − it really is that nightmare.
“We have been deprived of those valuable final years of Mum’s life and those precious moments with her to say our final goodbyes.
“She is missed by everyone who knew her and her loss has left a huge void. Our lives have been devastated and changed forever. As a family we are now suffering our own life sentence.”
A Prison Service spokeswoman confirmed HMP Hewell prisoner Leo Barnes was found unresponsive in his cell at 6.05am on Sunday. Paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Victim Cynthia Beamond. (s)