Express & Star

Cynthia Beamond murder: Accused 'was segregated' before prison suicide

The man accused of bludgeoning a Black Country pensioner to death with a saucepan may have been segregated from other inmates before being found dead in his prison cell.


Leo Barnes was discovered hanging in his cell by prison officers at HMP Hewell in Redditch in January.

He was accused of battering 80-year-old grandmother Cynthia Beamond to death at her Halesowen home before killing another pensioner, Philip Silverstone, in London the next day.

He had been on trial over the deaths at Wolverhampton Crown Court a week before being found dead.

A pre-inquest review into Barnes' death at Worcestershire Coroner's Court in Stourport raised questions about how he was managed at HMP Hewell prior to his death.

Coroner Geraint Williams said: "I need to know more about the management of Mr Barnes before the turn of the year, from when he was incarcerated, dealing with his time in the segregation unit.

Police presence at the house in Juliet Road, Halesowen, where the body of Cynthia Beamond was found
The house in Juliet Road, Halesowen, where the body of Cynthia Beamond was found

"There are issues there that need to be explored."

Mr Williams said by putting Barnes in a segregation unit staff may have 'acted against prison service regulations'.

"Whether it had any bearing on what happened is not clear to me," he added.

Prison bosses will be questioned at a full inquest hearing in January, which is likely to last for six days.

The prison's head of security will also be questioned.

Mr Williams asked for medical records and prisoner escort records to be presented to him before the full inquest.

Barnes, 33, from Balsall Heath, Birmingham, had given evidence in court just days before he died. He had denied two counts of murder.

Before his death, the court heard how Barnes knew Mrs Beamond growing up as she lived on the same road as his grandparents. He was alleged to have killed her in her home.

The pensioner was found dead in her garage after her family grew concerned that they could not contact her and reported her missing. He was then said to have travelled to London and killed Mr Silverstone, who was 67 and a former next door neighbour.

Following Barnes' death, Mrs Beamond's daughter Beverley Hadley said: "We are devastated the man we believe is responsible for the brutal murder of my beloved mum is not going to face justice for this horrendous crime."

Mr Williams adjourned the hearing ahead of a full inquest to take place, starting on January 11.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.