A dad jailed in Peru for smuggling drugs has died while on parole – after his family say he was thrown from a balcony in an infamous prison.
Jason Cato, whose family say was thrown from a third floor balcony by inmates inside the Lurigancho prison in Lima – described as one of the toughest in the world – was behind bars for three years before being released.
There’s so many questions and we might never get the answersJamie Cato
After suffering physical and mental health problems, he died on March 10 and was quickly buried in the South American country, leaving his family with ‘so many questions’.
Brother Jamie, himself fighting extradition to Peru, where he is suspected of smuggling cocaine, said: “The police said they don’t know if it was suspicious. We just got told respiratory problems.
“We need to know if he was being fed and looked after, getting his medication, and if anybody attacked him.
“The police said they might do an autopsy but then they said it could have been natural or he could have been taking drugs or drinking.
“There were bruises on his face. We want answers.”
Jamie said Jason, who moved to Peru from South Shore around seven years ago, was buried within 24 hours in keeping with local customs, but against the family’s wishes. Jamie said the family is still deciding whether to launch a legal bid to exhume him to bring him home.
“The police say they can’t dig him up for six months for health reasons and they can’t do an autopsy then,” he said.
“There’s nothing we can do, we just have to accept it.”
Jason went to Peru in 2009 and was arrested within weeks on suspicion of drug smuggling.
Jamie said: “Apparently, he was caught in possession of drugs and he was told if he pleaded guilty they would cut the sentence. He did four years but he’s been out on parole since he broke his knees when he got thrown over the balcony by inmates.”
Two years ago, Jason’s sister Jodie said in a public letter to James Dauris, then the British ambassador to Peru, her sibling had suffered ‘terribly and become very ill’.
She wrote: “He got referred to a mental institution. He then got transferred again to another hospital – Hospital Nactional Arzobispo Loayza – as he had to have an operation due to water on his lungs.
“Jason is in no fit state of mind to talk to or have any understanding as to what is going on.”
The family also petitioned Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, calling on him and the Government to help.
At the time, Mr Marsden told them: “I will continue to monitor the efforts of the Foreign Office to provide support to Mr Cato’s family and commend the family on the commitment they have shown to trying to secure a return home for Mr Cato.”
Jamie said the family had become increasingly worried about Jason’s well-being, and were looking to buy him a ticket home when his parole ended in October.
“He was so skinny and horrible,” Jamie said. “We were trying to get him back on medical grounds but nobody could do anything to help him. He kept saying he wanted to come home but we told him to go to the embassy and pester them but he never did.
“There’s so many questions and we might never get the answers.”
Jason, who fathered a child with a long-term girlfriend in Peru, was described as a ‘laid-back’ character, who enjoyed surfing in his younger days.
Born in Rochdale, he spent his teenage years in Kent before eventually moving to Blackpool.
Jamie said: “He was just a lovable person. He was such a nice guy. Everybody who knows him has been affected, he didn’t have any enemies. If you needed anything he would help out.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: “We are providing assistance to the family of a British national who died in Peru on March 10’.
See Monday’s Gazette for more on Jamie’s extradition battle.