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.

Prisoners used official jail laptops to mastermind £30m drug operation

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

A criminal gang carried out a £30 million drug-smuggling operation from their cells – using laptops supplied by the Ministry of Justice to help them prepare for legal cases, and which they managed to tamper with, it has been reported.

The plotters even paid more than £1 million to persuade a freelance “fixer” to get himself convicted of fraud and sent to their prison to co-ordinate the operation – which involved shipping a ton of heroin and ketamine to Britain, according to tomorrow’s edition of The Independent.

The six-strong group came together at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, where they used computers supplied by the authorities under a taxpayer-funded scheme to help them prepare their cases, the report said.

The security features were disabled by another member of the gang – an east European hacker – using a coded memory stick smuggled into the jail by one of the plotter’s girlfriends.

The gang used the computers to communicate with overseas contacts to place the drugs on shipping containers of legitimate operators travelling from south Asia bound for Britain, the report added.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prisons are required to provide secure laptops to a minority of offenders facing trial so they can view legal material relating to their case.

“The computers do not enable prisoners to access any other part of the NationalOffender Management Service system and internet access is disabled.

“We will always take action against those attempting to break the rules and offenders face prosecution if they use equipment inappropriately.”

It is understood that only those considered to have legal material too complex or bulky to view on paper have access to these laptops and new, more secure laptops are now starting to be supplied to some prisoners.

HMP Wandsworth – deterioration due to staff shortages and overcrowding

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

Overcrowding and severe staff shortages meant that almost every service at HMP Wandsworth was insufficient to meet the needs of the prison population, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the south London local prison.

HMP Wandsworth is a Victorian category B prison with a category C resettlement unit. It was unacceptably overcrowded. It held 1,630 adult men, more than any other in the UK, and almost 70% more than its certified normal accommodation of 963. The population had grown and changed since the prison’s last inspection in 2013. The prison had been designated a foreign national prisoner hub and held over 700 foreign nationals. The category B prisoners were typical of inner city local prisons, with a high incidence of mental health and substance abuse problems. Category C prisoners had needed work, education and training opportunities. Severe staffing shortages compromised the prison’s ability to meet the needs of either group. Since the last inspection, staffing levels had been reduced by about 100 across all grades. This was compounded by difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • despite the efforts of staff, processes to keep prisoners safe lacked resilience;
  • there had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection and there were two further deaths in the months after the inspection, one an apparent homicide;
  • levels of self-harm were relatively low but the quality of support was inconsistent;
  • the excellent arrangements to identify, manage and reduce violence that inspectors found at the 2013 inspection had lapsed;
  • landings were unstaffed for long periods and this created potential for violence to take place unchallenged;
  • most prisoners were doubled up in small cells designed for one;
  • the third of prisoners who were unemployed usually spent 23 hours a day locked in their cells;
  • staff shortages meant association periods were restricted and inconsistent so prisoners were unable to use phones or showers;
  • health services had deteriorated, mainly because of staff shortages and there were unacceptably long delays in transferring men out to secure mental health facilities;
  • there were insufficient activity places for the population and attendance at those available was poor;
  • offender management was in disarray, with severe staff shortages and disorganisation creating a backlog of risk assessment and weaknesses in public protection arrangements; and
  • practical resettlement arrangements were very mixed.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • first night cells were generally well prepared and the prison relied heavily on a team of prisoner insiders to help new prisoners settle in;
  • security measures were proportionate and measures to restrict the supply of illegal drugs were more effective than comparable prisons;
  • the external environment was clean and in good repair, showing the efforts the prison was making; and
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were mostly courteous but staff shortages severely reduced the capacity of staff to interact with prisoners.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Overcrowding and severe staff shortages had led to deteriorating outcomes at HMP Wandsworth. It was not simply a matter of prisoners spending practically all day confined in shared cells the Victorians had designed for one – unacceptable though that was. Overcrowding, combined with severe staff shortages meant that almost every service was insufficient to meet the needs of the population.

“Managers and staff in the prison deserve credit for preventing the prison from deteriorating further, but it was not a surprise that some managers and staff were demoralised and others were clearly exhausted. Not all the problems at Wandsworth were a result of the population and resource pressures and this report identifies important areas the prison itself can and should address. Nevertheless, the Prison Service nationally will need to address the mismatch between a prison’s available resources and the size and needs of its population. Unless this is addressed, prisons will struggle to hold men safely and decently and to reassure the public that effective work has been done to reduce the risk that prisoners will reoffend and create more victims after release.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“This inspection took place at a time when staffing numbers at Wandsworth had dropped below budgeted levels because of a sharp unplanned increase in staff turnover. Action has been taken to support Wandsworth with additional staff from other Prison Service establishments and the gaol is now providing a limited but decent and consistent regime.

“As the Chief Inspector makes clear – there is more to do to achieve the level of purposeful activity and regime required to effectively support prisoners and help reduce reoffending. Recruitment of new staff is underway and we are determined to improve outcomes at Wandsworth both for prisoners and for the public over the coming 12 months. We will use the recommendations in this inspection report to support that process.”

Notes to editors:

1. Read the report.
2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
3. HMP Wandsworth is a category B local male prison with a category C resettlement unit.
4. This unannounced inspection was carried out from 23 February – 6 March 2015.
5. Please contact Barbara Buchanan (HMI Prisons) on 020 3681 2772 if you would like more information or to request an interview.

Police search for robber released in error

Ryan ByrnePolice are hunting a robber serving a nine-year jail term who was released from Wandsworth Prison in error.

Ryan Byrne, 34, was mistakenly freed from the prison in south London, Scotland Yard said. He was sentenced to a total of nine years’ imprisonment earlier this year for burglary, robbery and theft.

The Prison Service said it was investigating the incident.

Byrne is described as white, 5ft 11in and of medium build. He has blue eyes and a goatee beard.

A Yard spokesman said police were informed by the Prison Service on Friday that Byrne had been released in error.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Releases in error are very rare but regrettable occurrences. The number of incidents have fallen significantly in recent years with figures down by a quarter compared to 2009/10 but every incident is taken extremely seriously and we are not complacent.

“We are investigating this incident. The recapture of this prisoner is now a matter for the police.”

The Sun newspaper said Byrne had been taunting police by posing for pictures on the run. He was shown grinning in front of a police van, possibly in London’s Chinatown, and enjoying a pint in a pub.

A source told the newspaper: “Byrne was sitting in his cell having a cigarette when he was told he was free to leave. He couldn’t believe it. But he didn’t protest and has been enjoying his freedom.”

Police have checked his mother’s house in Acton, west London, but he is still on the run, it added.

Anyone who has seen Byrne or has any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact police on 101.

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.

Clifford: From West End To Wandsworth – “It’s inevitable he’ll face attack”


The celebrity publicist Max Clifford is facing up to two years in jail after becoming the first public figure to be convicted of sexual offences under Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree inquiry.

Clifford, 71, was convicted of sexually abusing four girls following an eight-week trial at Southwark crown court in London, which heard how the PR guru used his celebrity connections to bully starstruck teenagers into performing sex acts over a period of 10 years.

After deliberating for around 37 hours, the jury convicted Clifford on eight counts of indecent assault and cleared him of two further counts. Jurors could not reach a verdict on one additional charge of indecent assault.

The guilty verdicts make Clifford the first conviction under Operation Yewtree, the £2.7m investigation into historical sex offences triggered by the Jimmy Savile scandal in 2012. His conviction will also lift the pressure on the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the recent acquittals of Tory MP Nigel Evans and Coronation Street actor William Roache.

Dressed in a blue blazer and listening to proceedings with the aid of a hearing loop, Clifford showed little emotion as the guilty verdicts were returned. He was bailed and will be sentenced on Friday.

Outside court, he refused to apologise to his victims, whom he labelled throughout the trial as fantasists and liars.

“I’ve been told by my lawyers to say nothing at all,” he said, before being ushered past a battery of camera lenses into a waiting car. His daughter Louise, who was by her father’s side during the eight days of jury deliberations, was comforted by several of Clifford’s supporters, including one friend who nodded his head when asked whether the PR man was the victim of a witch hunt.

Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he seemed destined for a spell behind the gates of Wandsworth prison.

Mr Leech said: “Adult males convicted and sentenced to immediate custody at Southwark Crown Court go to Wandsworth prison in south London – where as a convicted paedophile and sex offender he will face a very diffficult path indeed.

“It’s likely that he will face a physical attack at some point, which shouldn’t happen but its almost inevitable that it will because he cannot be protected 24 hours a day.

“If sentenced to imprisonment Clifford’s safety is a task that Kenny Brown, the Governor of Wandsworth, will have to manage and I’m sure they are already looking at how they will do that.”


“Impressive Progress” At Wandsworth Prison Say Inspectors

HM Prison Wandsworth
HM Prison Wandsworth

HMP Wandsworth had improved in all areas, and staff were to be congratulated, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an announced inspection of the local south London jail.

HMP Wandsworth is a large and overcrowded institution dating mostly from the 19th century. The prison was severely criticised at its last inspection two years ago. More recently, inspectors found that the prison had made impressive progress in a relatively short period of time. Safety had improved significantly. The Victorian environment at Wandsworth was a challenge to maintain, but despite this, environmental standards were reasonably good. There was now sufficient activity for the majority of prisoners and resettlement services were generally effective.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • levels of violence had reduced and staff supervision had improved;
  • support for those in danger of self-harm was much improved, with evidence of better outcomes and fewer incidents;
  • security was applied proportionately, use of force was reducing and disciplinary arrangements were generally well managed;
  • the drug strategy was beginning to have an impact and support for drug misusers was good, although levels of illicit drug use remained too high;
  • the culture had markedly improved and staff-prisoner relationships were much better;
  • the quality of learning and skills provision, particularly vocational training, was good;
  • the strategy to reduce reoffending was reasonably good and grounded in a useful analysis of need; and
  • most medium- and longer-term prisoners received some offender supervision.

However, inspectors had some concerns:

  • too many prisoners were required to share a cell designed for one;
  • although the promotion of diversity was a developing priority, much more still needed to be done;
  • there was a range of services for foreign nationals, who made up over 40% of the population, but the prison needed a more considered approach; and
  • over a quarter of prisoners were locked up during the working day, which was still too high.

Nick Hardwick said:

“This is a good report that records significant improvement. The prison is well led by the governor and his management team, and it is to their credit that they have created a sense of optimism and energy in the prison. One inspection report does not of itself mean that the deep-set negative culture, built up over decades, which we witnessed at our last visit, is eradicated. The challenge will be to embed these recent improvements. However, at our previous inspection Wandsworth was being run in the interests of the staff; at this inspection we found a prison that was working toward becoming an accountable public service. The governor and his staff should be congratulated and encouraged following this fresh start.”

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

“This is a very positive report and I am pleased the Chief Inspector has recognised the achievements made by the governor and his staff at Wandsworth.

“There are clear challenges in running a Victorian prison of this size but Wandsworth has developed a safe environment with good outcomes for the prisoners it holds.

“The Governor and his team will now address any areas of concern in the report to continue to drive sustained improvement.”




Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 12 November 2013 at
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. This announced inspection was carried out from 13-17 May, 10-14 June 2013.
  4. HMP Wandsworth is a category B local male prison.
  5. Please contact Vinota Karunasaagarar at HMI Prisons on 020 3681 2801 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick.