July 2023

‘Prolific sex offender’ dies after hospital appointment cancelled and not re-booked

A convicted serial rapist described by a judge as a ‘prolific sex offender’ died from heart disease in jail after a cancelled hospital cardiac appointment wasn’t re-booked, an inquest heard.

Mel Orme – who was jailed for life in 1997 – was 57 and found dead in his cell at HMP Wymott near Leyland by prison officers conducting their morning rounds.

Orme, from Eccles, Salford, was returned to prison in 2020 for attacking a string of women at the Trafford Centre shopping centre after being freed early from previous prison sentence

A court heard he prowled the mall looking for new victims just five months after parole officers deemed him fit to be released.

Orme already had a string of sex offences on his record when he was transferred to the prison last November.

He underwent an initial health screening, telling prison staff he had been experiencing dizzy spells, and a hospital appointment was made for him after an ECG indicated some abnormalities in his heart function, the inquest in Preston heard

However, the appointment was then cancelled by the hospital, and there was nothing in Orme’s records to suggest it was ever re-booked.

On the morning of December 12 last year Orme was found dead in his cell when prison officers conducted their morning rounds.

An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court heard that Orme, who was born in Manchester, had a history of diabetes and hypertension.

A post mortem CT scan concluded the cause of his death was coronary artery disease with aortic valve disease and left ventricular hypertrophy listed as contributory factors.

Following Orme’s death a series of recommendations were made to Wymott Prison.

These are in the process of being implemented with the prison’s head of healthcare revealing new systems had been put in place to ensure the kitchen staff are aware of diabetic prisoners and others on specific diets.

Returning a conclusion of natural causes, Assistant Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg said: “Mel Orme had a known heart condition and suffered from diabetes. He was found dead in his cell at HMP Wymott at around 8am on December 12, 2022. He died as a result of naturally-occurring heart disease.”

In 2020 Orme, then aged 55, was jailed for 32 months at Minshull Street Crown Court after pleading guilty to sexual assault.

He was released from jail five months earlier despite being locked up for life for the attempted rape of a girl aged 16.

The court in 2020 heard how, in October 2019, Orme prowled the Trafford Centre looking for new victims. He followed one woman to the car park where he groped her bottom before grinning at her and walking away.

Hours later he followed another woman around the complex and attempted to grab her. A third woman out enjoying the afternoon with her daughter and friends had sat down on a bench when she spotted Orme watching her from behind a plant pot.

As she walked away he grabbed her by the arm and bottom, before pushing himself against her. She quickly moved away but has said the incident has caused her to have heart palpitations and she has not returned to the Trafford Centre since.

Orme, who remained emotionless during the sentencing hearing in 2020, was unrepresented at the hearing. He declined to give an explanation to the court when asked to by the sentencing judge.

He had 30 convictions dating back to 1979 when he was convicted of indecent assault on a female under 16.

He also had convictions for attempted rape, rape and indecent assault and his last conviction was in 1998 for two offences of attempted rape, to which he was handed life imprisonment. He was described by the judge as a ‘prolific sex offender’.