Lee Rigby Murderers Sentenced Today

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Wednesday February 26, 2014.

Sentencing was delayed by Mr Justice Sweeney to allow time for a specially-constituted court to decide if “whole-life” tariffs can still be handed to criminals who have committed the very worst of crimes. Mr Justice Sweeney’s move was a clear signal that a whole-life order – that is, sentenced to life in prison with no minimum term or chance for a Parole Board review – was firmly on the table for at least one of the defendants.

It is still down to Mr Justice Sweeney to decide if a whole-life term is appropriate. Last week, a panel of five judges, including the most senior judge in England and Wales,

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, declared that sentencing judges can continue to impose whole-life tariffs. The guidance comes in the wake of a decision by the European Court of Human Rights last year in an appeal by three murderers.

More follows…

Poor Management of Prisoners’ Property is Wasting Public Money Says Ombudsman

prison int gate

Prisons need to manage prisoners’ property better to avoid claims for compensation and the cost of investigating complaints, said Nigel Newcomen, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). He added that if prisons paid greater attention to their responsibility for prisoners’ property, this would avoid frustration for prisoners and the wasting of staff time on investigating complaints and arguing about compensation. Today he published a report on the lessons that can be learned about complaints received from prisoners about property

While the PPO investigates some very serious complaints, including assaults and racism – as well as all deaths in custody – the most common subject of complaint is lost or damaged property. These complaints also have the highest uphold rates where the PPO finds in favour of the prisoner. Over the past ten years, property complaints made up between 14% and 18% of all eligible complaints received. This proportion increased to 21% in 2012-13. The report, Learning from PPO Investigations: Property complaints, reviews property complaints received by the PPO in the first six months of 2012-13. 

The report highlights steps that prisons can take to improve:

  • ensure paperwork is completed correctly to record prisoners’ property so it can be reviewed if disputes arise;
  • recognise that possessions even if low value can have great importance to prisoners and should be managed according to Prison Service instructions;
  • follow Prison Service instructions about which religious items prisoners are allowed in their cells;
  • be proportionate when destroying items;
  • use photography more widely to better record which items prisoners hold and to reduce compensation claims.
  • respond effectively to prisoners’ complaints about lost or damaged property; and
  • accept responsibility when processes have not been followed, and when a prisoner is transferred, the sending prison should ensure that property arrives intact and undamaged at the receiving prison.

Nigel Newcomen said:

“Most property complaints concern small value items, but these can still mean a lot to prisoners with little. Unfortunately, too many of the issues involved could and should have been dealt with more quickly and efficiently by the prisons concerned. Instead, despite perfectly sound national policies and instructions, prisons too often refuse to accept their responsibilities when property has been lost or damaged. This leaves prisoners in limbo, creates unnecessary frustration and tension and leads to complaints, too many of which require independent adjudication. Using up scarce staff resources in this way, both in prison and then in my office, is not a good use of public money.”

A copy of the report can be found on the PPO website. Visit www.ppo.gov.uk.

27 Years For Boss Killer

Parvaiz Iqbal - stabbed 51 times
Parvaiz Iqbal – stabbed 51 times

A shop worker has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years for murdering his “friendly and popular” boss in a frenzied knife attack in South Yorkshire.

Naeem Mehmood, 27, stabbed Parvaiz Iqbal 51 times in the freezer room of his butcher’s store and supermarket in Rotherham in October last year.

Mr Iqbal, 40, was found with a 7in (18cm) knife stuck almost up to the hilt in his chest, a judge at Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Another shop worker who came to his boss’s aid was stabbed in the stomach but survived the ordeal.

Prosecutor Peter Moulson QC described how, after the attack at the Bismallah Food Store, Mehmood went on a 10-minute rampage, smashing windows and threatening members of the public with a huge machete he picked up after leaving the murder weapon embedded in Mr Iqbal’s chest.

Mr Moulson said the defendant shouted “Don’t come outside or I will gut you up” in Punjabi to strangers as passers-by fled in terror.

He was eventually arrested after he was confronted by an unarmed police officer, Chief Inspector Ian Womersley.

Mr Moulson said the attack on Mr Iqbal was “unprovoked, sustained and determined”.

Mehmood was jailed for life by Mr Justice Males who ordered he serve a minimum of 27 years.

Earlier, Mehmood had pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Iqbal and causing Saied Husseine grievous bodily harm with inten

The judge said: “This was a brutal, sustained and unprovoked attack, beginning with a cowardly stab in the back by a lethal weapon.”

He told Mehmood: “All murder is very serious but the seriousness of this offence was particularly high.

“It involved a savage and ferocious attack with a lethal weapon, premeditation and gratuitous violence continuing well after Mr Iqbal was bleeding to death on the floor.

“There was also a deliberate and murderous attack on Mr Husseine, which could very easily have caused his death. Your conduct as you left the store and proceeded along the road, terrifying and threatening innocent members of the public as you went, was a serious aggravating factor.”

The judge said father-of-three Mr Iqbal was “a friendly and popular member of the community who was well-liked and respected by his employees, his customers and all who knew him”.

He noted how Mehmood terrified members of the public as he made “bloodthirsty threats” in the street while brandishing the 10in (25.5cm) machete above his head.

The court heard that he smashed up glass displays in Mr Iqbal’s shop, swearing and shouting as young children looked on.

Mehmood then smashed up a series of cars outside the store before breaking the windows of a barber’s shop, showering customers with glass and threatening the owner.

The judge said: “The aftermath, as you left the store and rampaged down the road in broad daylight for about 10 minutes, leaving a trail of destruction behind you, caused real and understandable fear to many members of the public.”

But he said: “Why you acted as you did is not apparent.”

The court heard that Mehmood, who came to Britain from Pakistan in May 2011, started work at the shop in June 2013 but went on sick leave in August after part of his finger was chopped off in a machine at the store.

The judge said the defendant had returned to work the day before he attacked his boss, on October 15.

He said: “It may be that you were reacting to what you perceived, with no justification at all, as some kind of slight or that you harboured some kind of grudge.

“But, in any event, there is not the slightest excuse for what you did.”

The judge said there was also no evidence of Mehmood suffering from any kind of mental disorder.

Passing sentence, he told Mehmood: “It is apparent from your conduct in this case that you are a very dangerous man and present a considerable risk to public safety.”

The judge also commended the actions of Mr Womersley, who confronted Mehmood in the car park of a Tesco supermarket. The unarmed officer approached the bloodstained defendant, who was still brandishing the machete, and convinced him to put down the weapon.

Outside court, Detective Inspector Kevin Brown, from South Yorkshire Police, said Mr Womersely “put his life at risk” to disarm Mehmood, who appeared in the dock surrounded by prison officers.

“There’s nothing really that’s come out in our investigation to explain why,” the officer said.

Mr Brown said Mehmood originally suggested that he had been disrespected by Mr Iqbal but more than a dozen of his other employees talked of him as being the “perfect boss” when interviewed by detectives.

Mehmood, of Herringthorpe Valley Road, Rotherham, was given a 10-year prison sentence for the attack on Mr Husseine, which the judge ordered to run concurrently.

INQUEST response to the YJB Child Deaths Report

INQUEST Charitable Trust
INQUEST Charitable Trust

INQUEST response to Youth Justice Board report on deaths of children in custody

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“Whilst this report offers some insight into the Board’s learning from child deaths, it can be no substitute for a wider review.

“INQUEST’s work on the deaths of children shows the same issues of concern repeat themselves with depressing regularity. This demonstrates that the current mechanisms, including the YJB, are not preventing deaths of children.

“And recent government proposals relating to restraint and secure colleges for children also call into question the extent of the impact the YJB’s learning is having on policy-making.

“A short report cannot be a substitute for a full, holistic, independent review of child deaths in custody that encompasses all findings and recommendations, and examines the wider public health and welfare issues and a child’s journey into the prison system.  The government must extend the remit of the inquiry it is commissioning into the deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison to include children.”

Notes to editors:

1.  The YJB report can be accessed here: http://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/monitoring-performance/serious-incidents

2.  The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill can be accessed here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/criminaljusticeandcourts.html

3. INQUEST’s briefing on the need for an independent review of the deaths of children and young people can be accessed here  

For further information, please contact Hannah Ward, INQUEST Communications Manager on 020 7263 1111 / 07972 492 230.

INQUEST provides a general telephone advice, support and information service to any bereaved person facing an inquest and a free, in-depth complex casework service on deaths in custody/state detention or involving state agents and works on other cases that also engage article 2 of the ECHR and/or raise wider issues of state and corporate accountability. INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths occurring.

Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.

YJB Child Deaths In Custody – Lessons Learnt Report published


The YJB’s report Deaths of Children in Custody: Action Taken, Lessons Learnt explains the actions taken by the YJB in response to recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, coroners and Serious Case Reviews, following the deaths of children in custody since 2000. It also identifies the work that still needs to be undertaken to ensure that when children must be held in custody, it is in a safe environment which protects them from harm.

MP Calls For Grayling ‘Spin Machine’ Probe

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling

A Whitehall whistleblower has claimed the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has ordered advisers to vet all answers given by his department to official parliamentary questions to ensure a “favourable reply” is provided.

In a letter to shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan MP, the “concerned official” claims Ministry of Justice (MoJ) staff at all levels are “infuriated” by the way the minister’s advisers have sought to drag them into “the spin machine”.

Mr Khan has written to MoJ permanent secretary Ursula Brennan to demand an investigation into the allegations made by the whistleblower and has accused Mr Grayling of politicising the department.

The shadow justice secretary and MP for Tooting has also called for a review of parliamentary answers given to him in recent months, which he says have shown a “noticeable deterioration” in timeliness and quality.

An MoJ spokeswoman said it is committed to answering parliamentary questions “in a way that provides the necessary context for members”.

Mr Khan said: “It appears as if I am being deliberately denied information I am entitled to.

“The only explanation is that Chris Grayling wants to hide how badly he is doing as Justice Secretary.”

He went on: “Asking parliamentary questions is absolutely crucial to MPs. Without them, it would be almost impossible to get to the bottom of what’s really happening in the justice system, what taxpayers money is being spent on and whether the Government’s policies are succeeding or failing.

“If my answers are being manipulated for party political purposes, the public are denied the true facts.

“This is bad for democracy and bad for the British public.”

The shadow justice secretary labelled the Justice Secretary a “cowboy” and attacked his record at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

He added: “That’s why I’m demanding an immediate inquiry by the most senior officials to get to the bottom of whether the Ministry of Justice is being blatantly politicised with MPs being denied information we are entitled to with obstacles put in our way.

“Information must be freely available, quickly, with no grubby interference by a political spin operation trying to hide the embarrassment of Chris Grayling.”

MoJ officials preparing answers to parliamentary questions have been told to pay “particular interest” to questions in 48 areas, including prisoners in police cells, first-class rail travel, deaths in custody and ministers’ personal matters, the whistleblower claimed.

In his letter to the permanent secretary, Mr Khan said parliamentary answers go unanswered, some are dealt with via holding answers, which fail to be followed up, and some provide answers to different questions.

Among unanswered questions, issues such as prison capacity and the experience of staff at Oakwood prison run by G4S are covered, some of which Mr Khan says are “clearly politically embarrassing” for the Justice Secretary.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: “Special advisers are employed to provide advice and assistance to ministers across a wide range of areas, as required and in line with the code of conduct for special advisers.

“The MoJ receives a high volume of parliamentary questions on a wide range of subjects.

“These vary in complexity, and can sometimes involve compiling detailed statistical information. We are committed to answering PQs in a way that provides the necessary context for members.”

Child Pornography Solicitor Struck Off

James-Guy Jacobs
James-Guy Jacobs

Middlesex-based property partner James-Guy Jacobs has been struck off the solicitors roll and ordered to pay costs of £1,500 following a conviction for child pornography offences at Harrow Crown Court in November 2012.

Jacobs was convicted of ten counts of making indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of a child, five counts of taking indecent photographs and one count of possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child.

He was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.

Jacobs is married and lives in Pinner. He was a partner at Healys at the time the offences and left in May 2013. He then moved to Fletcher Day as a consultant, where he was when the SRA decided to prosecute.

In a case brought by the SRA at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) on Monday (11 February), Jacobs was found to have failed to uphold the rule of law, acted without integrity and in a way which was likely to diminish public trust in the profession.

The SDT noted that despite showing remorse after the event, Jacobs had been oblivious to the effect his behavior had on the children in the photographs.

The tribunal heard that Jacobs had been under a great deal of stress, both at home and at work, and that the events in question were an error of otherwise good judgement.

SRA head of legal and enforcement Jennifer Johnson said: “Any solicitor convicted of sexual offences involving children can expect to be dealt with severely. The public needs to be able to trust solicitors and all those who provide legal services.”

Jacobs has 21 days from the publication of the judgement by the SDT to appeal the decision. It usually takes seven to 10 days from the day of the hearing for a judgment to be written and published.

‘Whole Life’ Sentences Lawful Says Court – But ‘Right Wing’ Say Critics –

Subhan Anwar - child killer murdered in prison
Subhan Anwar – child killer murdered in prison

Leading judges gave a crucial ruling backing the use of whole-life sentences today – which was criticised as ‘right wing’ by commentators.

A panel of five judges, headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, announced their decision on controversial “life-means-life” orders at the Court of Appeal in London.

The judges increased the 40-year minimum prison term being served by killer Ian McLoughlin, who murdered a man while on day release, to a whole-life tariff.

And they dismissed an appeal by Lee Newell, who murdered a child killer while in prison, against the whole-life order imposed in his case.

Sentencing in a number of high-profile criminal cases has been put on hold – including the terms to be handed out to soldier Lee Rigby’s murderers – pending the judgment.

The Government has said that whole-life tariffs are “wholly justified in the most heinous cases”.

Reacting to today’s ruling Attorney General Dominic Grieve said on Twitter: “I am pleased CoA (Court of Appeal) has confirmed those who commit the most heinous crimes can be sent to prison for the rest of their lives.”

Mr Grieve added: “As someone who has killed three times, Ian McLoughlin committed just such a crime, and following today’s judgment he has received the sentence that crime required.

“I asked the Court of Appeal to look again at McLoughlin’s original sentence because I did not think that the European Court of Human Rights had said anything which prevented our courts from handing down whole life terms in the most serious cases.

“The Court of Appeal has agreed with me and today’s judgment gives the clarity our judges need when they are considering sentencing cases like this in the future.”

Lord Thomas said the court had held that the statutory scheme enacted by Parliament which enabled judges to pass whole-life orders was “entirely compatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Judges should therefore continue as they have done to impose whole-life orders in those rare and exceptional cases which fall within the statutory scheme.

“Under the statutory scheme as enacted by Parliament, the Secretary of State has power to release a prisoner on licence if he is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the prisoner’s release on compassionate grounds.”

He added that the court had given guidance as to the meaning of that under domestic law.

At a hearing in January, Lord Thomas, Sir Brian Leveson, Lady Justice Hallett, Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Burnett were urged to find that imposing sentences which mean a prisoner can never be released are not “manifestly excessive or wrong in principle”.

Such terms were deemed a breach of human rights following a successful appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by murderers Jeremy Bamber, Douglas Vinter and Peter Moore.

Last year the trio won a ruling that their whole-life sentences amount to “inhuman and degrading treatment”.

Whole-lifers should be entitled to a review of their sentence 25 years into their term at the very latest, the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg-based court said.

The ruling by 17 judges from across Europe sparked further outrage among critics of the court – despite reassurances that the decision did not amount to grounds for imminent release.

As well as dealing with the appeal by Newell, who murdered child killer Subhan Anwar, they were asked to decide if the 40 years imposed in McLoughlin’s case could be regarded as “unduly lenient” and should be increased.

In the case of McLoughlin, the judges heard that he was aware of the proceedings but did not wish for any argument or representations to be made on his behalf.

His stance was explained to the court by barrister Kevin McCartney, who said McLoughlin had not considered the legal aspect, but had approached it from a “purely personal approach”.

It appeared from letters written by McLoughlin that he had been “very anxious at the sentencing hearing” and that this was a “sentiment that carried on… not to act in any way that would cause any further distress to the deceased’s family”.

Mr McCartney said: “That is a factor that played very heavily, as I understand it, in his attitude towards these proceedings.”

It was successfully argued on behalf of the Attorney General that the “failure to impose a whole-life order renders the sentence unduly lenient”.

On behalf of Newell, Joe Stone QC, in seeking permission to appeal against sentence, argued that a whole-life term was “manifestly excessive”.

Newell, now 45, challenged a whole-life sentence imposed last September at Warwick Crown Court.

He was convicted alongside Gary Smith for the February 2013 murder of convicted child killer Anwar in his cell at Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire. Newell was already serving a life sentence for a previous murder committed in 1988.

Triple killer McLoughlin, 55, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey last October for stabbing a man on his first day-release from prison after 21 years in custody.

When sentencing McLoughlin, the trial judge imposed a 40-year tariff, saying he could not pass a whole-life term because of the European court ruling.

McLoughlin – who had killed twice before – stabbed Graham Buck, 66, as he came to the aid of a neighbour in Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, last July.

Those currently serving whole-life terms in England and Wales include Moors Murderer Ian Brady, who tortured and murdered children along with accomplice Myra Hindley, and serial killer Rosemary West.

Mr Justice Sweeney has said he will wait to sentence Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebolajo, and Michael Adebowale, until after the Court of Appeal decision. No date has yet been fixed for that sentencing hearing.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is a timely and welcome decision. Our courts should be able to send the most brutal murderers to jail for the rest of their lives.

“I think people in Britain will be glad that our courts have disagreed with the European Court of Human Rights, and upheld the law that the UK Parliament has passed.”

Lord Thomas said: “These two cases are exceptional and rare cases of second murders committed by persons serving the custodial part of a life sentence.

“The making of a whole-life order requires detailed consideration of the individual circumstances of each case.

“It is likely to be rare that the circumstances will be such that a whole-life order is required.”

Lord Thomas said that “although there may be debate in a democratic society as to whether a judge should have the power to make a whole-life order”, it was evident in the court’s view that “there are some crimes that are so heinous that Parliament was entitled to proscribe, compatibly with the Convention, that the requirements of just punishment encompass passing a sentence which includes a whole-life order”.

Lord Thomas said the Strasbourg court held last July that there had been a violation of Article 3 – inhuman and degrading treatment – in relation to whole-life orders on the basis that they were “not reducible”.

He said the Court of Appeal did not read the Grand Chamber’s judgment “as in any way casting doubt on the fact that there are crimes that are so heinous that just punishment may require imprisonment for life”.

He added: “There may be legitimate dispute as to what such crimes are – at one end genocide or mass murder of the kind committed in Europe in living memory or, at the other, murder by a person who has committed other murders, but that there are such crimes cannot be doubted.”

He said: “Under our constitution it is for Parliament to decide whether there are such crimes and to set the framework under which the judge decides in an individual case whether a whole-life order is the just punishment.”

Lord Thomas said: “We therefore conclude that no specific passage in the judgment, nor the judgment read as a whole, in any way seek to impugn the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, as enacted by Parliament, which entitle a judge to make at the time of sentence a whole-life order as a sentence reflecting just punishment.”

In their ruling the five judges concluded that the sentencing regime established by Parliament does provide for “reducibility”.

They ruled that the Grand Chamber was wrong when it reached a conclusion that the law of England and Wales did not clearly provide for reducibility.

In the Court of Appeal’s view the domestic law “is clear as to ‘possible exceptional release of whole-life prisoners’.”

A power of review arose if there were “exceptional circumstances”. An offender was required to demonstrate to the Secretary of State that although a whole-life order was just punishment at the time the order was made, exceptional circumstances had arisen since.

The Secretary of State “must then consider whether such exceptional circumstances justify the release on compassionate grounds”.

Lord Thomas concluded: “In our judgment the law of England and Wales therefore does provide to an offender ‘hope’ or the ‘possibility’ of release in exceptional circumstances which render the just punishment originally imposed no longer justifiable.”

Ruling on the McLoughlin case the Court of Appeal said the sentencing judge did not think he had the power to make a whole-life order, but he was “in error”.

The seriousness of the case was “exceptionally high”, and just punishment required a whole-life order – 40 years was unduly lenient.

In a letter written by McLoughlin to his lawyers explaining why he did not want representations made on his behalf, he said: “It is just that I believe I deserve the whole-life tariff which the AG is seeking and that the family of Graham Buck deserves to know officially that I will never be released.”

In Newell’s case, Lord Thomas said: “The murder was premeditated and involved the use of an improvised weapon. It occurred in prison whilst Newell continued to serve a life sentence. The deceased took a significant time to die.

“There was no mitigation. This was a murder where the seriousness of the offence was exceptionally high. The judge was right in making a whole-life order. This appeal is accordingly dismissed.”

However Mark Leech editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales, criticised the judgment as ‘right wing.’

Mr Leech said: “I am not against whole life tariffs in principle, for the most heinous crimes it is absolutely right that society must be able to lock the door and throw away the key.

“But the point of a review of such a sentence 20 or 25 years after it was imposed, as held by the European Court of Human Rights, is crucially important in terms of fairness even if nothing changes when those reviews take place.

“It should not be the case that a whole life prisoner should have to prove exceptional circumstances before a review takes place – all whole life sentences should be reviewed 20 or 25 years after they are imposed because they are effectively a death sentence, a sentence of death in jail, and a review of all such sentences would show that British Justice goes that extra mile of fairness for which it has become famed around the world.

“Sadly today’s judgement shows that we currently have the most right-wing higher Courts since the days of Lord Chief Justice Goddard in the 1950’s, our senior judges – who are all appointed by the Queen on the political recommendation of the Prime Minister it must be remembered – have today shown they have little respect for human rights and they have done so-called British Justice a huge disservice by serving their political masters rather than the rights of those people they swore to uphold.”

HMP Pentonville – “Huge Challenges”

Exercise yard at Pentonville Prison, north London
Exercise yard at Pentonville Prison, north London

HMP Pentonville was very concerning, despite the best efforts of many staff and governors, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the north London local jail.

At the time of the inspection, Pentonville was seriously overcrowded and held 1,236 men, 35% above its certified normal accommodation. More than half the population were held on remand or for short sentences of less than six months. All local prisons hold needy and challenging populations but at Pentonville this was especially so. Eleven per cent of men had been assessed as malnourished when they were admitted to the prison. About half of all the men held were on the caseload of the prison’s drug and alcohol service. The mental health service received about 100 referrals a month. The prison was shortly to start taking remanded young adults who would no longer be held at HMP YOI Feltham.

The staffing reductions the prison was required to make were having a number of serious consequences. A number of staff accepted for voluntary redundancy were still working at the prison; some were disengaged and their attitudes were having a detrimental effect on the prison as a whole. Prison service procedures, which did not take into account the London recruitment market, were making it difficult to fill some critical posts. The prison was operating at well below its agreed staffing levels and the governor was due to move. In the face of all this, inspectors were impressed that in some areas there had been improvements.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • some good systems were in place to tackle antisocial behaviour;
  • the very high levels of violence found at the last inspection had reduced, but levels remained slightly higher than in similar prisons;
  • first night arrangements had improved;
  • support for those most vulnerable to self-harm was good, but the application of some safer custody processes needed to be more consistent;
  • the prison was vigorously combating the supply of drugs and alcohol and support for the large number of prisoners with substance misuse issues was well developed;
  • managers had worked hard to improve the personal officer scheme;
  • the large number of foreign national prisoners received some good support, but the Home Office’s input on immigration matters was inadequate;
  • the quality of teaching mostly good;
  • strategic management of resettlement work had improved and the approach was based on a good needs analysis of the population; and
  • reintegration planning was reasonable, though too many prisoners were being overlooked.

However, inspectors were concerned that:

  • almost half of prisoners said they had felt unsafe in the prison at some time;
  • the core day was unpredictable and prisoners were often unlocked late and association cancelled because of staff shortages;
  • the segregation unit environment and regime were particularly poor;
  • despite the prison’s efforts to combat drugs, positive drug testing results were high;
  • the physical conditions were poor and there were vermin infestations;
  • prisoners struggled with basic needs such as access to showers;
  • while some staff carried out good work, too many were distant and, on occasion, dismissive;
  • management of learning and skills had not sufficiently progressed, there were insufficient activity places for the population and those available were not well used; and
  • although good work was being carried out with high risk and indeterminate sentence prisoners, the focus on other groups was less well developed.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Pentonville faces huge challenges and many staff and governors have worked with determination and skill to meet them. At the time of the inspection the prison was going through a particularly difficult time as it made the transition to new staffing levels. Nevertheless, it is clear that Pentonville cannot operate as a modern 21st century prison without investment in its physical condition, adequate staffing levels to manage its complex population and effective support from the centre. It these things cannot be provided, considerations should be given to whether HMP Pentonville has a viable future.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises that progress has been made at Pentonville in important areas despite the challenges inherent in running a large, old prison with a highly transient and challenging population.

“The reduction in violence and the advances in resettlement are particularly noteworthy and the former Governor and staff deserve credit for the progress made.

“At the time of the inspection the prison was transitioning to new staffing profiles and new working arrangements which will provide a decent, consistent and stable regime for prisoners going forward. Pentonville will receive the support it requires to build on the progress made and to address the further recommendations set out in this report.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/prison-and-yoi/pentonville

Duchess of York Lifer – Freed in Weeks?

Jane Andrews
Jane Andrews

A murderer who once worked as an aide to Sarah Ferguson could be freed from her life sentence within weeks after applying for early release – but one prisons expert argues it will be at least another three years before she is in any realistic position to be freed.

Jane Andrews, 46, who stabbed her wealthy lover Thomas Cressman to death in a row over marriage, has reportedly applied for release after reaching the minimum 12 years in prison recommended as part of the life sentence she was given in 2001.

Although she will still have to convince a parole board that she is no longer a danger to society, Andrews, who had a similar release request turned down in 2012, could be back on the streets within weeks.

Andrews became a close friend and confidante of the Duchess of York during nine years as her employee – joining her on royal duties both in the UK and abroad.

In 2000, after Mr Cressman refused to get married, she clubbed the 39-year-old businessman unconscious with a cricket bat at their home in Fulham, west London. She then stabbed him to death.

During an argument in the hours before the murder, Cressman called police saying ‘somebody is going to get hurt’, but officers decided not to attend the scene.

Andrews attacked her boyfriend just a few hours later while he was sleeping.

Shortly after the killing, Andrews contacted her ex-husband Christopher Dunn-Butler and sent out text messages to friends inquiring about her lover’s whereabouts and well-being.

She claimed to have had no involvement in Cressman’s death and said she believed he was being blackmailed.

After she disappeared for several days during the police investigation, officers launched a manhunt and finally located her in Cornwall, where she was found overdosed in her car.

After her recovery and a subsequent police interrogation, Andrews was arrested for murder.

During her trial at the Old Bailey, the court heard Andrews had a history of depression and violent mood swings, and had made several suicide attempts and threats.

Speaking to Jeremy Armstrong at the Mirror, Mr Cressman’s brother Rick said he was ‘disappointed’ Andrews was applying for early release.

He said: ‘She remains a seriously dangerous individual and shouldn’t be freed… we have to live the rest of our lives without Tommy. That’s our life sentence.’

Expressing his anger that Andrews was applying for early release again despite being  turned down two years ago, Mr Cressman added: ‘The justice system allows for people who have committed heinous crimes the opportunity to have parole. As a family we can’t do anything about that.’

Andrews is understood to held at Send Prison in in Surrey, having been moved for East Sutton Park open prison after absconding in 2009.

Andrews spent two days on the run before being returned to the prison, although the Crown Prosecution Service said she would not face additional charges after considering psychiatric reports.

The Parole Board confirmed their review was ‘currently ongoing’, adding that Andrews remained in ‘closed conditions’.

Born to a working class family in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, Andrews was 21 when she answered a personal advert in The Lady for a personal dresser.

She was hired by the Duchess of York six months later and was a trusted member of her inner circle until being made redundant in the late 1990s as part of a Buckingham Palace cost-cutting exercise.

Andrews’ murder trial attracted huge media attention at the turn of their millennium, seemingly as much for the glamorous circles she moved in over the previous decade as for the brutal killing itself.

Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he thought it ‘highly unlikely’ that she would be freed any time soon.

Mr Leech said: “It is highly unlikely she will be freed any time soon even though she is now post-tariff – that is, has served in excess of her minimum term.

“She remains in closed conditions following her abscond from East Sutton Park in 2009, and that in itself is a huge indicator that she is not yet considered suitable to be trusted.

“Realistically I suspect we are looking at a minimum of three more years before she is in any realistic position to be released – and she will have to be tested in an open prison again for at least a couple of years before release becomes any kind of possibility.”