Inmate stabbed to death at Wormwood Scrubs to ‘teach him a lesson’, court told

A prisoner was stabbed to death with a makeshift knife at HMP Wormwood Scrubs to teach him a “lesson”, a court has heard

Khader Saleh, 25, was attacked by fellow inmate Kalifa Dibbassey, 21, after visiting his cell to try to resolve a dispute, jurors were told.

Dibbassey is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murder alongside Ahmed Khayre, 22, and Enton Marku, 20, who were allegedly recruited to help on January 31.

opening the trial, Oliver Glasgow QC said: “It appears that Khader Saleh had gone to this cell in the hope of trying to resolve a conflict that he had with Kalifa Dibbassey.

“However, he could have had no idea what lay in wait for him.

“Kalifa Dibbassey had armed himself with a makeshift knife for the purpose of attacking Khader Saleh and had gone to the trouble of recruiting help in order that he could carry out his plan.”

Marku was waiting outside the cell and Khayre escorted the victim inside, it is claimed.

Mr Glasgow told jurors: “Once the cell door was shut, Khader Saleh was attacked and stabbed twice.

“He had no chance to defend himself or to strike out at his attackers, which is why the only person to sustain any injury in that cell was Khader Saleh.”

Afterwards, the defendants allegedly set off an alarm before climbing into a neighbouring cell and setting off an alarm there too.

They got away when a prison guard unlocked the cell door moments later, the Old Bailey was told.

Mr Glasgow said the attack appeared to have been sparked by a “minor altercation” in the segregation unit the day before.

He said: “No-one saw what happened but Khader Saleh had sustained an injury to his face and it was evident that a fight had broken out and someone had assaulted him inside the holding cell.”

On the possible motive for the attack, Mr Glasgow said: “Khader Saleh had made a nuisance of himself and he needed to be taught a lesson.”

Jurors heard Dibbassey had admitted the killing but had said he acted in self-defence.

The prosecutor said: “Kalifa Dibbassey was waiting in his cell for Khader Saleh to arrive, he had armed himself with a knife that had been fabricated from a piece of metal.

“He was ready to use that knife the moment the cell door was shut and as soon as he had killed Khader Saleh he ran from the cell and hid in a cell on a completely different level.”

Mr Glasgow said all three men “played their part” in the death at the west London jail and it did not matter who wielded the weapon.

Wormwood Scrubs has an operational capacity of around 1,300 prisoners and at the time of Mr Saleh’s death, there were 1,188 inmates.

All three defendants have denied murder.

Murder Trial: HMP Pentonville. Officers “Did Favours” for Inmates Jury Told

jamalmahmoudPrison officers at a north London jail would regularly do “favours” for prisoners, including smuggling contraband, the widow of a fatally-stabbed inmate has told a court.

New father Jamal Mahmoud, 21, was allegedly attacked by three fellow prisoners in a battle over illicit phones and a knife on G Wing of HMP Pentonville on October 18 last year.

Melissa Modeste, who spoke to her husband in the hours before the attack, told the Old Bailey Mr Mahmoud claimed he could “get let out” of his cell to settle a dispute with a rival faction.

Asked if she found this surprising, Ms Modeste said: “No, because I know what the guards are like there. They let people out, they do favours like bring stuff in.”

The trial has heard how Mr Mahmoud was allegedly killed by three fellow inmates in a battle to control the wing’s “lucrative” contraband route.

Robert Butler, 31, Basana Kimbembi, 35, and Joshua Ratner, 27, deny murder as well as wounding Mr Mahmoud’s associate Mohammed Ali, with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.

The location of the victim’s cell on the fifth floor of G Wing occupied a prime position, giving him power over the influx of contraband, jurors have heard.

Before his death, he was said to be angry about other inmates bringing in parcels without “cutting him in” on the deal.

Questioning Ms Modeste, Michael Holland QC, defending Kimbembi, suggested: “As far as parcels were concerned, it was his operation. It was the fact they were bringing parcels in without his permission.”

Mr Mahmoud spoke with his wife for around an hour and a half the night before he died, on one of the 15 phone numbers she had for him, the trial heard.

Ms Modeste said: “He wasn’t the happiest. He was being very blunt and I kept asking what was wrong.

“He said he felt violated. He said they pulled a knife on him.”

Ms Modeste said she brought one of Mr Mahmoud’s friends in on a three-way call on the morning of his death to help “calm him down”.

She said: “Jamal was in his cell. He said he was going to get someone to unlock his cell. He was saying something along the lines of ‘I’m not going to let this slide’.

“I told him he shouldn’t do anything and made a threat to him, saying I would never speak to him again.”

 

Emerson Cole, a prison officer on G wing at the time, was warned by an inmate that knives were stashed in a cell the day before the killing.

Mr Cole, now a senior officer, said of the inmate: “He had a concerned look on his face. He said he’d never seen nothing like it before.

“He said: ‘If it don’t kill one of you,’ meaning officers, ‘then it’s going to kill one of us,’ meaning prisoners.”

The following morning, the cell was searched but no blades were found.

Following the attack, Pentonville officers “voted no confidence in the governor” Kevin Reilly, the court heard.

Questioning, Mr Holland said: “The concern was the inquiry would seek to lay blame.Prison staff were concerned management were not going to take responsibility. Staff had made complaints they were overwhelmed.

“Matters were made worse when two prisoners escaped just over a fortnight later – it was like something out of The Great Escape, wasn’t it?”

James Whitlock and Matthew Baker went on the run in November last year after breaking out of the Victorian prison by sawing through a metal bar, clambering over the roof and swinging round a CCTV pole on a bed sheet.

The trial continues.

Six prison homicides in one year reflect unacceptable level of prison violence, says Ombudsman

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 15.56.17

Homicides in prison are still rare but the number has increased, vividly illustrating the unacceptable level of violence in prisons in England and Wales, said Nigel Newcomen, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). Today he published a bulletin on lessons that can be learned from his investigations.

The PPO investigates all deaths in custody and his remit is to examine the circumstances surrounding the death and establish whether anything can be done to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. In December 2013 he published a bulletin which looked at 16 prison homicides investigated from 2003-4 to 2012-13, an average of 1.6 per year. The 2013 bulletin identified a number of concerns, in particular the need to improve the management of risk that vulnerable prisoners pose to one another. It led to operational changes in high security prisons.

In the three years that followed, from 2013-14 to 2015-16, another 13 prisoners were killed by another prisoner or prisoners (an average of 4.3 homicides per year). This bulletin considers the learning from six of those 13 homicides where investigations have been completed, and another two from the beginning of 2013.

The bulletin highlights the need for:

  • prisons to have a coordinated approach to identifying indicators and risks of bullying and violent behaviour, including the impact of new psychoactive substances and associated debt, and taking allegations of intimidation seriously;
  • prisons to have an effective security and cell-searching strategy, enabling weapons to be found and removed;
  • concerns about potentially vulnerable prisoners to be properly recorded and action taken to ensure prisoners are located in a place of safety; and
  • the police to be notified without delay when a prisoner appears to have been seriously assaulted, evidence preserved and all prisoners involved in an incident to be held separately until police arrive.

 

Nigel Newcomen said:

“The killing of one prisoner by another in a supposedly secure prison environment is particularly shocking, and it is essential to seek out any lessons that might prevent these chilling occurrences in future.

“The cases we studied had little in common beyond their tragic outcome. Nevertheless, what is clear is that the increased number of homicides is emblematic of the wholly unacceptable level of violence in our prisons.

“The bulletin does identify a number of areas of learning: the need to better manage violence and debt in prison, not least that associated with the current epidemic of new psychoactive substances; the need for rigorous cell searching to minimise the availability of weapons; the need for careful management of prisoners known to be at risk from others and the need to ensure prisons know how to respond when they have an apparent homicide.”

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales and Converse, said:

“The rising tide of violence in our prisons is what happens when staffing levels are cut beyond safe levels, when budgets are slashed that allow already attenuated regimes to deteriorate further and when the Prison Service has yet to get to grips with the impact of high levels of New Psychotic Substances which are increasingly widely available across the entire prison estate.

“When you strip away the political rhetoric, the promises of more staff, the assertions that the Prison Service is doing all it can, the simple fact is that you cannot run a modern, safe, prison service on tuppence ha’penny – that’s the shockingly simple truth of the matter at the end of the day.”

A copy of the bulletin is here.

Better Safety Must Underpin Prison Reform Says Ombudsman As Suicides, Homicides and Deaths From Natural Causes Reach Record Levels

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The past year saw a 34% rise in prison suicides, more deaths from natural causes and the highest number of homicides in prison for many years, said Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen. Today he published his fifth and final annual report and warned that prison reform could stall without a focus on safety and fairness.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) independently investigates the circumstances of each death in custody and identifies lessons that need to be learned to improve safety. In 2015-16:

  • PPO investigations were started into 304 deaths, 21% more than the year before;
  • the PPO began 10% more investigations into deaths from natural causes (172 deaths), largely as a consequence of rising numbers of older prisoners (the average age of those who died of natural causes was 61);
  • investigations were started into 103 self-inflicted deaths, the highest number in a single year since the Ombudsman began investigating deaths in custody, and a 34% increase from 2014-15;
  • there were six apparent homicides, compared with four the previous year; and
  • a further 11 deaths were classified as ‘other non-natural’ (usually drug related) and 12 await classification.

Nigel Newcomen said:

“Over the past year, deaths in custody have risen sharply, with a shocking 34% rise in self-inflicted deaths, steadily rising numbers of deaths from natural causes and the highest number of homicides since my office was established.

“Together with rising levels of violence and disorder, these figures are evidence of the urgent need to improve safety and fairness in prison. Progress in prison reform will be limited unless there is a basic underpinning of safety and fairness on which to build.

“Unfortunately, I have been saying many of the same things for much of my time in office. While resources and staffing in prisons are undeniably stretched, it is disappointing how often – after invariably accepting my recommendations – prisons struggle to sustain the improvement I call for. Ensuring real and lasting improvement in safety and fairness needs to be a focus on the new prison reform agenda.”

On suicides, he said:

“It is deeply depressing that suicides in custody have again risen sharply but it is not easy to explain this rising toll of despair. Each death is the tragic culmination of an individual crisis. Some major themes do emerge from my investigations, for example the pervasiveness of mental ill-health and the destructive impact of an epidemic of new psychoactive substances, but no simple explanation suffices.

“In such a complex context, effective and thoughtful efforts at prevention by prison staff are vital. Unfortunately, too often my investigations identify repeated procedural failings. For example, I have frequently identified gaps in the assessment of risk of suicide and self-harm and poor monitoring of those identified as being at risk. More can and should be done to improve suicide and self-harm prevention in prison”

The other principal part of the PPO’s remit is the independent investigation of complaints. In 2015-16:

  • the total number of new complaints received was 4,781, a 4% decrease on the previous year;
  • 2,357 investigations were started, just 23 cases fewer than the year before;
  • overall, 2,290 investigations were completed, a 6% increase on 2014-15;
  • in 40% of the investigations, the PPO found in favour of the complainant, compared with 39% the previous year; and
  • the largest category of complaints was about lost, damaged and confiscated property.

Nigel Newcomen said:

“The ability to complain effectively is integral to a legitimate and civilised prison system. In each of my annual reports, I have listed the raft of challenges facing the prison system, which go some way to explaining the sustained levels of complaints reaching my office. These strains in the system may also be reflected in the increasing proportion of complaints from prisoners that I uphold because prisons got things wrong, often in contravention of their own national policies.

“Avoiding mistakes and ensuring basic fairness will also need to be at the heart of any prison reforms. Greater autonomy for governors must be balanced by clear statements of minimum entitlements for prisoners.”

The recommendations made as a result of PPO investigations are key to making improvements in safety and fairness in custody. The past year also saw the publication of a range of learning lessons publications which look across individual investigations to identify broader themes. In 2015-16, bulletins looked at how to avoid the increase of suicides by prisoners in segregation units, how to address deaths associated with new psychoactive substances and how to manage those at risk of suicide in the early days of custody. A thematic study looked at the issue of mental ill health, and a bulletin looked at how legal mail should be dealt with.

Nigel Newcomen said:

“I pay tribute to my staff who have worked so hard to enable me to deliver the commitments that I made on my appointment five years ago: to develop a new programme of learning lessons publications, to improve the quality and timeliness of fatal incident and complaint investigations and to do more with less. We will have to do still more in 2016-17. I know my staff will rise to the challenge.”

A copy of the report can be found here www.ppo.gov.uk.

Mentally ill inmate admits battering cell-mate to death

copsinwannoA mentally ill prisoner has admitted battering his cell mate over the head with a television set as he awaited trial for a random attack on a walker at popular beauty spot.

In June 2014, Taras Nykolyn, 46, pounced on Roger Maxwell as he took an early morning stroll near the Windmill landmark on Wimbledon Common in south-west London.

He forced the victim to the ground, smashing his face and breaking his wrist.

Then, while he was on remand at Wandsworth prison, Nykolyn killed Wadid Barsoum by hitting him with a TV, punching and stabbing him in their cell.

Ukrainian Nykolyn, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to both attacks at the Old Bailey with the help of an interpreter.

He admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm to Mr Maxwell on June 19 2014 and the manslaughter of Mr Barsoum on May 4 last year.

Alternative charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and murder were ordered to lie on file by the Recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard QC, after hearing the defendant was suffering from mental illness at the time.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said: “Two psychiatric reports concluded that the defendant suffers from an abnormality of mental function, namely paranoid psychosis.

“They are satisfied that at the time of the killing of Mr Barsoum his responsibility was diminished.”

Although there was a possible defence of insanity to the attack on Mr Maxwell, the Crown was satisfied it was dealt with appropriately with the plea to a lesser charge.

Diana Ellis QC, defending, told the court that Nykolyn had been moved to HMP Belmarsh since the killing.

Then in November last year, he was transferred to Broadmoor secure hospital for an assessment before being sent back to the top security jail.

As the requirements have not been met for a hospital order, the defendant faces a jail sentence, the court heard.

Sentencing was adjourned to Friday, January 22.

HMP Wandsworth was built in 1851 and is now the largest prison in the UK, holding 1,877 inmates

Alongside HMP Liverpool, which is of similar size, the category B jail is one of the largest prisons in Western Europe.

The spot where Mr Maxwell was attacked is not far from where young mother Rachel Nickell was stabbed to death by schizophrenic Robert Napper on July 15 1992

In 2008, Napper pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility bringing to an end the inquiry into one of the most notorious killings in modern British criminal history.

Prisoner jailed for fatal jail attack

A prisoner who attacked a fellow inmate causing his death a week later has been jailed for four years.

Alastaire Scott, 23, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 28-year-old Frazer Stent at HMP Rochester and was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court.

The fatal attack took place in the Chilham Wing at the category Cprison on Sunday October 12, when inmates were allowed free movement on the wing.

Mr Stent had been part of a group of men involved in an altercation with a prisoner who was a close friend of Scott’s, Kent Police said.

He had been walking down a corridor, with Scott slightly behind him, and entered a cell where he spoke with two inmates inside.

While Scott remained outside the cell door, a few seconds later Mr Stent was pushed outside. With his attention focused on another inmate, Scott punched him to the right hand side of his head and he hit the ground with nothing breaking his fall.

Mr Stent was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital where a CT scan revealed bleeding on the brain. He was kept sedated throughout his time in hospital but his condition deteriorated and he died a week after being assaulted.

During interview Scott said he had carried out the attack because the victim had been involved in a confrontation with his friend but had not intended to kill him.

Detective Inspector Gavin Moss, senior investigating officer for the case, said: “Alastaire Scott’s decision to punch Frazer Stent was both reckless and stupid and the consequences could not be more tragic. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the victim’s family.

“During interview Scott told officers he did not intend to kill his fellow inmate but that does not excuse his actions. He gave little thought to the consequences and the impact it would have on his victim, which in this tragic example could not have been worse.”

Inmate murdered at Cork Prison this evening

Cork Prison, Irish Republic
Cork Prison, Irish Republic

A post-mortem examination will take place tomorrow following the fatal stabbing of an inmate at Cork Prison this evening.

The body of the victim is expected to be removed to the morgue at Cork University Hospital overnight.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out by State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy.

The incident happened at around 5pm this evening in the kitchen of the prison.

Prison sources said that a row may have broken out over a television remote control.

The victim, a man in his early 40s from Bandon, Co Cork, was stabbed in the chest and died a short time later.

He was not known to be a violent inmate.

The scene has been sealed off for forensic examination.

An inmate in his 30s has been isolated.

The Prison Service has said it is to carry out a review at Cork Prison and the Inspector of Prisons will conduct an inquiry but the garda’s criminal investigation will take precedence.

Murdered prisoner named

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

 

A man allegedly murdered in jail was named tonight as Wadid Barsoum, 66.

He was found in a cell at Britain’s largest prison,Wandsworth, yesterday morning.

Scotland Yard has said officers were called to the south London jail to reports of a male prisoner dead in a cell.

A spokesman said Taras Nykolyn, 46, also of HMP Wandsworth, had been charged with murder and will appear in custody at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court tomorrow Wednesday.

He added: “This follows an incident inside HMP Wandsworth at approximately 07:35hrs on 4 May.”

A Prison Service spokeswoman has said: “An HMP Wandsworth prisoner was pronounced dead in hospital at 8.52am on Monday 4 May.”

Wandsworth, a category B jail, can hold more than 1,800 prisoners. Alongside Liverpool, which is of similar size, it is one of the biggest prisons in Western Europe.

It was built in 1851, and the residential areas remain in the original buildings.

Since 1989, there has been extensive refurbishment and modernisation of the wings, including in-cell sanitation, privacy screens for cells occupied by more than one prisoner and the more recent installation of in-cell electricity.

Prisoner murdered in London jail

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

A man has been murdered in jail, police said.

Officers were called to Wandsworth Prison in south London at 7.35am today to reports of a male prisoner dead in a cell, Scotland Yard said.

The victim is believed to be aged in his 60s and though next of kin have been informed, formal identification has not yet taken place.

A post-mortem examination will take place in due course, a Yard spokesman said.

A man in his 40s, also a prisoner, has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He is currently in police custody.

The murder investigation is being led by Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Reeves of the Homicide and Major Crime Command and enquiries continue, the spokesman said.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “An HMP Wandsworth prisoner was pronounced dead in hospital at 8.52am on Monday 4 May.

“A police investigation is ongoing, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Wandsworth, a category B prison, is the largest in the UK, and can hold more than 1,800 prisoners. Alongside Liverpool, which is of similar size, it is one of the biggest prisons in Western Europe.

It was built in 1851, and the residential areas remain in the original buildings.

Since 1989, there has been extensive refurbishment and modernisation of the wings, including in-cell sanitation, privacy screens for cells occupied by more than one prisoner and the more recent installation of in-cell electricity.

Jail Staff Criticised Over Prisoner Killing

Gary Douch
Gary Douch
Former Irish prisoner Gary Douch had consumed “a considerable amount of alcohol” in a cell in Mountjoy jail just before being beaten to death by a prisoner who was displaying psychosis, a report has found.

The two men should never have been placed in the same cell together, the Commission of Investigation into the 2006 killing has concluded.

The report by Grainne McMorrow SC has also found that the dead man, his killer Stephen Egan and five other men they were sharing a basement cell with when the murder occurred were all being accommodated in a manner that breached their human rights.

She also found no spot checks had been carried out on the cell on the night Mr Douch was killed, with his lifeless body not having been discovered until the cell was opened the following morning.

Overcrowding at the jail had “completely undermined” the prison staff’s ability to facilitate Gary Douch’s request to be housed away from the main prison population because he feared for his safety.

It found Egan was a violent, mentally ill and troublesome prisoner who was transferred from Cloverhill Prison to Mountjoy Prisoner in exchange for another inmate just two days before he killed Mr Douch.

That exchange was “sweetened” by Cloverhill having agreed to take a group of prisoners from Mountjoy to ease overcrowding there.

However, the staff in Mountjoy who agreed to take in Egan were unaware the authorities at Mountjoy had refused to take him in when he had been released from the Central Mental Hospital just two weeks earlier.

Despite being a violent prisoner and having just previously been acutely psychotic when taken from the prison system to the Central Mental Hospital, there was no medical consultation around his transfer between the two jails.

His medical files did not travel with him and nor did his medication, meaning he was not in receipt of his medication in the days leading up to the murder in the early hours of August 1st, 2006.

When he began to verbally display the same signs of psychosis and hallucinations in Mountjoy as he had had done in the Central Mental Hospital, this apparently went unrecognised and meant he was locked in a communal cell, where he murdered Mr Douch.

“In particular, Mr Egan displayed the same delusional preoccupations with “the Beast” and “rapes” as well as other symptoms of psychosis in holding cell 2 on the 31st July/1st August that he had displayed previously when unwell,” the commission notes.

It also concludes that attacks which Egan was involved in within the prison service – such as setting fire to a padded cell and trying to strangle a prison officer during a transfer – were never fully investigated with a view to shaping better treatment for him.

The report also reveals that the prison service was so keen to continually transfer the troublesome, violent and mentally ill Egan that no one group of staff or facility ever took ownership of his care.

The commission also concludes that, given the seriousness of his mental health issues, Egan should never have been transferred from the Central Mental Hospital on July 14th, 2006, back into the prison system, just nine days after admission to the hospital.

It says the transfer to Cloverhill occurred despite the Central Mental Hospital knowing that once Egan was back in the prison system, it would lose any influence over his care.

After just two weeks in Cloverhill he was transferred to Mountjoy, and within 72 hours he had killed Mr Douch in a basement holding cell.

Staff at Cloverhill are excoriated in the new report for having sought to offload Egan from their care because he was so difficult, and for placing him in the overcrowded environment of Mountjoy that they knew was not well placed to care for him.

“The management at Cloverhill Prison exhibited what this commission regards as a reckless disregard for the health and safety of Stephen Egan in transferring him to Mountjoy Prison without any consultation with his doctors or with the psychiatric in-reach service,” the report states.

It continues: “In selecting Stephen Egan for transfer, Cloverhill also exhibited a reckless disregard for the health and safety of staff and prisoners at Mountjoy Prison, which they knew was under severe pressure from overcrowding.

“He was wholly unsuitable for transfer, given that he was a prisoner with known violent history, still under psychiatric care and on anti-psychotic medication, recently discharged from the Central Mental Hospital.

“The transfer also involved moving Stephen Egan from the safety of a high observation single cell on Cloverhill’s D2 wing to Mountjoy, when they knew, or could reasonably be expected to have known, that he would not be accommodated in anything approximating the facilities available in D2.”