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Drink-drive Glasgow uni student dies in jail after ‘relentless bullying’ by other inmates

Family members and Glasgow Uni staff have launched a campaign for justice

In February earlier this year, Glasgow University student Katie Allan was jailed for drink- driving, after hitting a 15-year-old boy whilst four times over the legal limit.

Her sentence was 16 months, but in June she took her own life in her prison cell after claims she was "tormented" by staff and other inmates.

Her mother Linda has claimed Katie was the victim of relentless bullying, including saying she was forced to parade naked in front of prison staff.

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Katie and her mum, Linda

In February 2018, Katie was charged with 16 months in prison after she struck 15 year old schoolboy Michael Keenan whilst driving more than four times above the legal alcohol limit

After hitting Michael Keenan with her car in August 2017, Katie was quickly traced by eyewitnesses and pleaded guilty to two charges of causing serious injury and dangerous driving. The boy was left unconscious and wounded, but has since made a full recovery.

The parents of both Katie and her victim pleaded with a judge not to jail her as she was "truly sorry," but in court it was said the combination of charges made it "impossible to deal with this in a non-custodial way". A social enquiry report had also recommended Katie should not be jailed.

Katie survived just five months of her sentence in Polmont Prison, near Falkirk, throughout which she reportedly endured torment from staff and fellow inmates including being forced to parade naked as part of a jail training exercise.

It is claimed one particular inmate forced Katie to hand over her tobacco and stamps and perform tasks like posting letters. This apparently caused Katie to lose most of her long blond hair through stress-induced alopecia. Her mum says she was also unable to sleep due to the "shouting, berating and bullying" coming from nearby cells.

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Katie has been described as an "easy target" and a "sheep in a wolf's den" by close friends and family members, describing that she was treated "like a piece of meat".

Katie's mum Linda told the Daily Record her daughter was "strip searched after almost every visit," and despite the fact the searches were supposed to be random or intelligence-led, "it always seemed to be her". One such incident reportedly consisted of Katie being chosen to be strip-searched during an officer training exercise, whilst six officers and trainees stood by having a conversation as if she wasn't there.

Katie's parents say her alopecia was flagged to a jail doctor, and staff performing numerous strip searches failed to report self harm marks all over her body. Following what was to be her final visit on 3rd June, Mum Linda describes Katie as being "in clear distress" but feeling unable to report the abuse because she was frightened by threats and officer involvement in the bullying. Linda Allan says she spoke with a prison guard who told her not to worry, as she would "sort it out," however the next day Katie was found dead in her cell. It is thought that Katie killed herself out of terror after being told she would be moved to an adult prison the next day.

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Mum Linda claims Katie was given no mental health checks and denied being moved to a quieter "suicide-proofed" cell as she was not deemed a sufficient risk, despite having a history of self harm and showing multiple signs of clear distress. A spokesperson for the Scottish Prison Service said: "We can offer no further comment in advance of the fatal accident inquiry but we will fully cooperate with the inquiry."

Linda says she "contacted every family liaison officer in Polmont to raise concerns about Katie's ability to cope" but heard nothing back from anybody.

This tragic incident follows a 2015 report by the mental Welfare Commission which found alarmingly high rates of self harm and mental health problems in Scottish prisons including Polmont, Cornton Vale, Edinburgh, Greenock and Aberdeen.

Katie's parents Linda and Stuart are now campaigning for justice for their daughter and a serious reform of the criminal justice system. They have been supported by the family of Michael Keenan, Reverend Stuart McQuarrie, the chaplain of Glasgow University, and Aamer Anwar, the university's rector and human rights lawyer. The public campaign will be launched on Thursday at the university chapel at 10am.

If you need someone to talk to the Samaritans are free to call on 116 123.