An inmate who was released from prison "by mistake" was found dead in Reading three days later, a coroner said.

Jamie Andrews had been sentenced to serve a prison sentence and was also being held on remand for other offences, when guards at HMP Bristol "opened the door and let him out" on December 1 2022, a coroner's court heard.

A lawyer representing the Ministry of Justice said the release was due to “an error in sending paperwork”.

This meant the 49-year-old was unlawfully at large when he was found dead on the streets of Reading, by members of the public.

A pre-inquest review heard he had 50 previous convictions and a known address in the town. 

Magistrates court documents show he had been remanded in custody on charges of fraud, burglary and shoplifting from John Lewis.

He was due to attend a plea and trial preparation hearing at Reading Crown Court, ahead of a possible trial, on December 19 2022.

Ian Wade KC, the assistant coroner for Berkshire, said: “At the time he passed, he was unlawfully at large.

“He was ordered to serve a short prison sentence in respect of certain offences for which he was convicted. At the same time, he was to be held in custody to await a further appearance in court in respect of other matters.

“Jamie was both a serving prisoner and a remand prisoner held at HMP Bristol. The evidence gathered so far informs me Jamie was literally let out of Bristol Prison on December 1 2022, some three days before he died.

“The reality of the situation is that he ought not to have been liberated on December 1. That is no criticism of Jamie. He did not escape. They opened the door and let him out. 

“Jamie was likely to have known that he had been freed unlawfully or inappropriately. He was present at the magistrates court when they remanded him in custody, to be held until a future appearance. 

“He would have known he would be likely to have to wait there regardless of the release date on the sentence he had been serving.”

Reading Coroner's Court heard Mr Andrews had appointments scheduled with his probation officer at the time he was released.

Mr Wade said the Prison and Probations Ombudsman subsequently conducted a review of the incident, but did not find any causes for concern.

On December 4 2022, Mr Andrews was found dead in London Street. A post mortem examination found he had died primarily from Ischemic heart disease, but also because of a number of mainly illegal drugs found in his system.

A pathologist discovered that there was packages contained within Mr Andrew’s rectum, but they had not broken and released their contents, Mr Wade added.

Michael Etienne, representing Mr Andrew’s two daughters and his son, argued a jury needed to be called for a full inquest.

“It appears to have been a police officer working within the internal offence management unit in the prison who discovered Jamie had been wrongly release”, he said.

Mr Etienne said that because Mr Andrews was released “by mistake”, he was technically in state custody at the time he died.

He added that HMP Bristol has a history of problems and issues which had been highlighted in recent reports.

But Jack Murphy, for the Ministry of Justice, said there was no evidence of any systemic failure within the prison and added Mr Andrews was technically not in state custody at the time of his death.

“As much as there was an error, it is incontrovertible the death occurred when he was not in prison”, Mr Murphy said. “The reason is an error in sending paperwork.”

“There is no evidence before the court that conditions in the prison had a direct link to the death”, he added.

Mr Wade said a jury would be required for the full inquest, commenting that Mr Andrews had been remanded to custody by a court order and that he had been “improperly released”.