The protege of a racing legend and BBC presenter died after taking his life while in custody, a court has heard.  

Michael Tucker had been transferred to HMP Wayland, near Thetford, on February 3, 2023, from Chelmsford prison. 

While at Chelmsford, the 40-year-old had been prescribed medication for anxiety, depression, and emotional dysregulation. 

Two days after arriving at Wayland, he was seen by a psychiatrist who made changes to his medication. 

At an inquest into his death, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard how he was struggling with thoughts of harming himself and was put under regular observation.  

On March 22, one of his medications was withheld for the evening which led to him damaging prison property and he was taken back to his cell to calm down. 

He was last seen by prison officers at 5.33pm during a scheduled observation. Following another at 6.01pm he was found hanging in his cell. 

He did not respond to CPR and was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. 

Eastern Daily Press:

His family, who were not present in court for the opening day of proceedings, shared a statement with the Norwich-based court

They said: “Michael was brought up in East London and attended school in Leyton. 

“He did not have an academic mind but, on reflection, if schooled in today’s world he’d surely have received more help to achieve and reach his potential. 

“Although not academic, Michael was keen on all types of sport, including karate, and he trained with the England national squad instructor, Ticky Donovan.” 

Michael went on to obtain his purple belt. Soon after this, he began boxing and training at various gyms to improve his fitness.  

His family said his strength was “something he was proud of”. 

They added: “After leaving school, a promising career as a jockey took hold and Michael joined Martin Pitman’s stud farm as an apprentice jockey. 

“After leaving his jockey career behind, Michael found his way back to the family business of working in the markets and car boots sales.” 

Mr Tucker worked with his family for several years selling fruit and veg at markets and in clothes shops. 

“His character and manner would certainly bring in the customers,” his family continued. 

“The phrases ‘rough diamond’ and ‘cheeky chap’ would often be used to describe him.” 

“Michael was a character with a loud laugh and an active lifestyle. 

Eastern Daily Press: HMP Wayland

“He was strong and full of energy which, when used at the right time, was a powerful asset to have. 

“He was always helpful to his family and friends and would jump to their aid without sometimes thinking of the consequences to himself. 

“Michael did find difficulties throughout his life and spent a number of years in prison for a variety of offences. 

“In hindsight, this was a waste of his short life, and it was with great sadness to his family and friends that he met his end so early in his life aged only 40 years old.” 

The court, based at County Hall, heard that Mr Tucker had been living in Essex at the time of his offence. 

The inquest, being heard by area coroner Samantha Goward in front of a jury, is expected to last eight days. 

  • To pay tribute to a loved one, email    
  • To read all obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost
  • Do you need support? Samaritans can be reached on 116 123. The NHS First Response Service is available on 111 option 2.