A prisoner took his own life in a Tayside jail shortly after having his methadone prescription removed after seven years, a fatal accident inquiry heard.
A review by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) found that taking Darren Johnston off the heroin substitute may have contributed to his suicide.
The Dundonian was kept on the methadone programme for seven years despite authorities knowing he was still using heroin and other drugs.
However, it was shortly after he was taken off methadone in the community that he took his own life while serving a short sentence in Perth Prison.
In a written judgment, Sheriff Pino di Emidio noted the SPS review which “stated that the deceased’s removal from his methadone script in the community had possibly been a contributory factor in his death”.
Johnston was prescribed methadone in January 2010, but the authorities were aware that within months he was injecting heroin and risking overdose.
“The deceased had a long record of offending. He had become rather institutionalised. He found it hard to cope while at liberty in the community,” the judgment said.
“In about September 2016, he was on a high dose of methadone. On about February 2 2017…it was noted that the deceased continued to use illicit drugs (including heroin) to the extent that it was feared he was at risk of cardiac arrest.
“He was told that consideration would be given to stopping his methadone prescription as it could not safely continue if the use of illicit drugs (especially heroin) did not cease.”
His methadone was reduced and finally withdrawn at the end of June 2017. He was released from prison at the end of July but arrested again on August 1 2017.
At Dundee Sheriff Court the following day he admitted a number of offences and was jailed for a total of five months, with an earliest date of release of October 16.
Johnston denied having suicidal thoughts and appeared to have settled back into prison life the night before he was found dead in his cell on September 19 2017.
The sheriff concluded: “On the evidence available to me, there were no reasonable precautions that could have been taken that might realistically prevent other deaths in similar circumstances.”