The Prison Service ombudsman is to investigate the death of a prisoner who was found hanging in his cell at Erlestoke Prison.

Dan Smith, 26, from Shoreham in Sussex, was found in the early hours of February 4.

Despite attempts by staff to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

His funeral took place at Shoreham on Monday. A memorial service at the prison last Wednesday was attended by members of his family.

Prison governor Andy Rogers said: “This has been a terrible shock, not just for Dan’s family, but for all the staff here. It is many years since we have had an incident like this and everyone is very upset.

“Dan was quiet and withdrawn, but he never gave us any indication he was suicidal. Staff attempted on many occasions to speak to him and draw him out of himself, but with only limited success.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this time. They do not hold the prison responsible for Dan’s death.”

The Wiltshire coroner has been informed of the death and an inquest will take place in front of a jury in due course.

The Prison Service ombudsman has also been informed and will carry out his own investigation.

It is a severe blow to the prison, which is seen as a model of care for prisoners throughout the country. Erlestoke has not had a similar incident take place since 2005 when a prisoner attempted to hang himself in his cell.

On that occasion, prison officers succeeded in resuscitating him.

The prison is preparing for the demolition of the much-criticised Wren Unit and its replacement with a £12million wing.

Work is due to begin in the next two weeks and the new unit will open in November.

The wing will be home to 124 prisoners, 24 more than the existing unit, and all inmates will benefit from ‘interventionist’ courses designed to wean them off dependence on drugs and alcohol.

Surprisingly, the anti-alcohol course will be the first run by the Prison Service and other prisons in the country are looking with interest on how it succeeds at Erlestoke.

The prison is also planning a number of fundraising events at the prison during and after the rebuilding process. One of these may be inviting members of staff to spend a night in a cell and raise sponsorship for a good local cause such as the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.