Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police faces prosecution following 2012 death of Thomas Orchard

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today informed the family of Thomas Orchard of its decision to bring a Health and Safety prosecution against the office of the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall police concerning his death in 2012.  A first hearing will take place on 24 May at Westminster Magistrates court. The CPS decided against bringing charges under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.

Thomas died in 2012 following restraint while detained by Devon and Cornwall police.  Charges to be brought under section 3 of the Health and Safety Act relate to the Force’s use of an Emergency Response Belt (ERB), a piece of equipment used by officers during Thomas’ restraint.  This week Thomas would have turned 38.

Thomas was a fit and physically healthy 32-year-old church caretaker, living independently in supported accommodation at the time of his death. He had a history of mental illness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. On 3 October 2012 he was arrested and detained by Devon & Cornwall officers in Exeter City Centre following reports of his bizarre and disorientated behaviour.

He was transported by police van to Heavitree Road Police Station. Upon arrival, in addition to the triple limb restraints applied, an ERB, made from a tough impermeable webbing fabric, was put around his face. The ERB remained held around his face as he was carried face down to a cell where he was left lying unresponsive on a cell floor. By the time officers re-entered his cell, Thomas was in cardiac arrest. He was transferred to hospital and pronounced dead on 10 October 2012.

In February 2018, following Devon and Cornwall’s persistent refusal to take action, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) directed the force to bring gross misconduct charges against four police officers and two detention officers  involved in Thomas’ detention and restraint.   These proceedings are still awaited.

Thomas’s family said: “We have spent the past five and a half years, since Thomas died in police custody, watching CCTV footage, listening to witness statements, reading reports, perusing documents which relate to the safety and well being of those in police custody, and witnessing the defensiveness of Devon and Cornwall Police. As a result, we have consistently told those in authority our view of what happened to our much loved son and brother on 3rd October 2012: his was a needless death caused – directly –by lack of care and negligence from the very people who should have been protecting him.

As a family we can, therefore, be nothing but dismayed by the decision from the CPS not to prosecute for corporate manslaughter; it is hard to believe after all we have witnessed. However, we are pleased that Devon and Cornwall Police will now need to account for their actions in relation to their approach to health and safety in connection with Thomas’ death.

More than anything else we want to see a change in police attitudes and behaviour, particularly towards those with mental health vulnerabilities. Despite almost six years having passed since Thomas’ death, the evidence suggests that few lessons have been learnt and that little has changed. We have, sadly, come to the conclusion that only a conviction will bring about a genuine commitment amongst police forces to instigate real change and improvement.

Thomas died when he was 32 years old. We could not then have ever imagined how long we would have had to sustain our fight for justice. Today, as we contemplate what would have been his 38th birthday, our thanks go to those whose expertise has guided us, especially to our solicitors at Hickman and Rose, to all those at the charity, INQUEST, the Victim Support Service and to other families who have also lost loved ones in police custody. Thanks go, too, to our family, friends and colleagues who care with us and for us.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said:
“The death of Thomas Orchard during a mental health crisis involved some of the most brutal use of restraint equipment by police that we have ever seen.  Since 2011 the CPS have had the power to bring corporate manslaughter charges against police forces. They have never used this power, and have chosen not to here. If not now, then when?

 We have consistently seen the corporate role and responsibilities surrounding deaths in police custody delegated to the background, unscrutinised and unchallenged.  This historic prosecution of Devon and Cornwall police is an important and necessary response.”

The solicitor for the family, Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose, said:
“The family are pleased that the CPS has decided to prosecute Devon and Cornwall Police.

This appears to be just the third time a chief constable has been prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in connection with a civilian’s death.

The public will expect the CPS to fearlessly prosecute this case, without delay.

Devon and Cornwall Police have failed to properly acknowledge public concern around Thomas’s death, including a repeated refusal to accept that they or their officers have a case to answer for their involvement in Thomas’ death. Now the courts will hear the case against the office of the chief constable. Thomas’ family have waited long enough.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or lucymckay@inquest.org.uk

  • INQUEST has been working with the family of Thomas Orchard since his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose solicitors.
  • INQUEST is aware of just two other police related deaths resulting in prosecution of a police force on Health and Safety charges: Jean Charles de Menezes and Anthony Grainger. The latter were subsequently dropped.  INQUEST is not aware of any other case where a corporate prosecution has followed the prosecution of individual officers and civilian police staff.
  • Custody Sergeant Jan Kingshott and Detention Officers Simon Tansley and Michael Marsden were charged with gross negligence manslaughter after Thomas died of asphyxia following a period of prolonged restraint in their custody. In March 2017 the jury at Bristol Crown Court found them not guilty.
  • In his evidence to the Court Home Office pathologist, Dr Delaney, identified that Thomas’ death resulted from a struggle and period of physical restraint including a prolonged period in the prone position and the application of an Emergency Response Belt across the face resulting in asphyxia.

INQUEST is the only charity providing expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians. Our specialist casework includes death in police and prison custody, immigration detention, mental health settings and deaths involving multi-agency failings or where wider issues of state and corporate accountability are in question, such as the deaths and wider issues around Hillsborough and Grenfell Tower. Our policy, parliamentary, campaigning and media work is grounded in the day to day experience of working with bereaved people.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or lucymckay@inquest.org.uk

  • INQUEST has been working with the family of Thomas Orchard since his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose solicitors.
  • INQUEST is aware of just two other police related deaths resulting in prosecution of a police force on Health and Safety charges: Jean Charles de Menezes and Anthony Grainger. The latter were subsequently dropped.  INQUEST is not aware of any other case where a corporate prosecution has followed the prosecution of individual officers and civilian police staff.
  • Custody Sergeant Jan Kingshott and Detention Officers Simon Tansley and Michael Marsden were charged with gross negligence manslaughter after Thomas died of asphyxia following a period of prolonged restraint in their custody. In March 2017 the jury at Bristol Crown Court found them not guilty.
  • In his evidence to the Court Home Office pathologist, Dr Delaney, identified that Thomas’ death resulted from a struggle and period of physical restraint including a prolonged period in the prone position and the application of an Emergency Response Belt across the face resulting in asphyxia.

INQUEST is the only charity providing expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians. Our specialist casework includes death in police and prison custody, immigration detention, mental health settings and deaths involving multi-agency failings or where wider issues of state and corporate accountability are in question, such as the deaths and wider issues around Hillsborough and Grenfell Tower. Our policy, parliamentary, campaigning and media work is grounded in the day to day experience of working with bereaved people.

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

Why The Parole Board and Secrecy have no right to be Bedfellows

By Mark Leech.

Today The Times reports that Members of parole panels who decide to release prisoners should not be identified because of fears for their safety, the Parole Board has recommended to the government.

The Board has also opposed allowing the public into parole hearings and the release of details of the decision in full or a redacted form. Instead it wants a summary of the decisions to be made available on request, according to the board’s response to the justice ministry’s review of the processes. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/keep-parole-panels-secret-says-board-c8nn3dvck

How ridiculous is this yet one more example of Parole Board professional self-harm?

The High Court quashed the release decision in the Worboys case largely because the secrecy that surrounded it, enshrined in the now declared ultra vires Rule 25, offended against the common law principle of open Justice – our criminal justice system consists of two distinct ends: one the Courts that send people to jail and, at the other, the Parole Board that in the case of serious offenders, releases them.

Both ends – and the full journey between them both – should be subject to exactly the same degree of public openness and transparency as each other.

If we name our Magistrates and Judges who send people to jail, what on earth is the point of concealing the names of Parole Board panel members who decide whether to release them or not?

This ridiculous drive for criminal justice secrecy is also to be seen within our prisons, among the 2000 or so Members of the rightly much-criticised ‘Independent Monitoring Boards’ (IMBs) – lay people appointed to statutory office by the Secretary of State for Justice to report on conditions inside our prisons and whose names the public are banned from knowing – a decision upheld by the Secretary of State for Justice in 2016.

This ban on IMB names being published comes despite the ludicrous fact that every single report from the Prisons Inspectorate names the IMB Chairman in the prison the Report refers to – and it ignores the fact too that when IMB members are at work inside our prisons, they all wear name badges.

Secrecy has no part in our criminal justice system, it still seems bizarre to me that in 2018 when a defendant appears in court all the public get to see on television are (admittedly good) charcoal drawings of the person on trial.

It is time for television cameras to be placed inside all courts, first instance and appeals – and yes inside Parole Board Hearings too; the public have a right to know who does what, in their name, inside the criminal justice system.

If a judge or magistrate can be named and held responsible for the sentences that they pass, why should Parole Board Members be treated any differently when they decide whether or not to release those from that sentence?

Parole Board Members have the right to go about their lawful professional duties in a safe environment but if they are subject to threats or abuse, then those are rightly matters for the police and the courts to deal with – but a fear of it cannot be used to draw defensive lines ousting the public’s right to know who makes decisions on their behalf, on what are purely subjective and defensive lines.

Mark Leech is the Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales @prisonsorguk

HMP Portland: 62% of HMIP Previous Recommendations Not Implemented At This Violent & Unsafe Prison

HMP_Portland

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 15.54.53SAFETY: Reception staff were very welcoming, and procedures for new arrivals were appropriate. The first night unit was a decent environment where prisoners felt supported. Too many prisoners felt unsafe and levels of violence were very high. Self-harm was also high and often serious. The establishment’s response to diminished safety was inadequate. The incentives and earned privileges (IEP) scheme was used inconsistently, and the adjudication system failed to deal with many serious charges. Despite the widespread availability of drugs, the prison lacked a meaningful supply reduction action plan. Use of force was high and its governance was unacceptably weak. The segregation environment and regime were poor. Substance misuse support had improved since the last inspection and was good. Outcomes for prisoners were poor against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in July 2014 we found that outcomes for prisoners in Portland were reasonably good against this healthy prison test. We made 21 recommendations in the area of safety. At this follow-up inspection we found that six of the recommendations had been achieved, three had been partially achieved and 12 had not been achieved.

RESPECT: Living conditions for most prisoners were poor. Cramped cells lacked privacy and contained graffiti and offensive displays. Prisoner access to basic amenities and facilities was often restricted. We witnessed many positive interactions between staff and prisoners. Despite this, too many managers and staff had failed to notice and address poor conditions, behaviour and treatment. Prisoners lacked confidence in the application and complaints systems. Equality and diversity work was not given sufficient priority, and there was limited consultation with minority groups of prisoners. A wellintegrated chaplaincy provided good support. Significant health staff shortages limited mental health support, but primary health services were reasonably good overall. The quality and quantity of food provided were not always sufficient. Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in July 2014 we found that outcomes for prisoners in Portland were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. We made 28 recommendations in the area of respect. At this follow-up inspection we found that eight of the recommendations had been achieved, four had been partially achieved and 16 had not been achieved.

PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY: Time out of cell was insufficient for a category C prison and was made worse by the frequent regime slippage and cumbersome unlock procedures. Good partnership working between the prison and the college provider had led to an increase in vocational and work places and there were now sufficient activity spaces for most prisoners, but the regime frequently hindered access, punctuality and attendance. The quality of provision was mostly good, and prisoners behaved well in activities when they got there. Achievements in training and education were good. Library facilities were good but access was poor. The PE department offered vocational qualifications, but some prisoners had limited access to recreational gym. Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in July 2014 we found that outcomes for prisoners in Portland were poor against this healthy prison test. We made 18 recommendations in the area of purposeful activity. At this follow-up inspection we found that 12 of the recommendations had been achieved, one partially achieved, four not achieved and one no longer relevant.

RESETTLEMENT: The strategic management of resettlement had improved and appropriate structures were in place. However, there was a lack of effective management in the offender management unit (OMU). The significant backlog of OASys (offender assessment system) assessments affected many aspects of resettlement work. Offender supervisor contact and support for prisoners was hindered by frequent cross-deployment. There was an unacceptable backlog of home detention curfew (HDC) applications. Significant weaknesses in the management of public protection meant that we could not be sure if risk was managed safely. The community rehabilitation company (CRC)2 provided a good resettlement service, although there was not enough joint working with the OMU. Resettlement pathways work was variable. Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. At the last inspection in July 2014 we found that outcomes for prisoners in Portland were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test. We made 14 recommendations in the area of resettlement. At this follow-up inspection we found that four of the recommendations had been achieved, one had been partially achieved and nine had not been achieved.

HM CHIEF INSPECTOR OF PRISONS REPORTS;

HMP/YOI Portland is a category C prison located on Portland Bill, Dorset. It is an historic prison, originally built in 1848, housing around 500 adult and young adult male prisoners. The prison was last inspected in 2014, when it was judged to be fundamentally safe, but on this occasion there had been a marked decline in safety, which was now judged to be poor.

This was a serious and disappointing judgement that was rooted in a number of findings.

In our survey, half of prisoners said they had felt unsafe at some time, and one in four felt unsafe at the time of the inspection. The latter figure is double what it was in 2014. Levels of violence were very high, as was the level of self-harm – individual incidents of which were often serious. There did not appear to be a coordinated strategy to deal with the violence, and indeed there were significant failings in the response to it. In light of these levels of violence, it was not surprising that the use of force was higher than at comparable establishments.

However, the governance of the use of force was unacceptably poor.

Much paperwork connected with it was incomplete and not all planned interventions were filmed. Inexplicably, although body-worn cameras were available, they were not routinely used nor was their footage reviewed. Just as the issue of violence required urgent management intervention, so too did there need to be a coherent strategy to reduce the supply of illicit drugs into the prison. 64% of prisoners surveyed told us it was easy to get drugs. Only one prison had returned a higher figure than that in the past year. Meanwhile, 20% said they had actually developed a drug problem since being in the prison. It was clear that the ready availability of drugs was contributing to the levels of debt, bullying and violence that were evident throughout the prison.

Another symptom of the problem was the number of prisoners self-isolating across the jail. In terms of the conditions in which prisoners were held, too many of the cells in the residential wings were in poor condition. Many of the double cells had unscreened lavatories that were extremely close to the beds in which men slept and ate their meals. Equally concerning was that some prisoners and staff had come to accept such conditions as normal. To my surprise, a senior member of staff showed me a double cell where a sheet had been used to screen the shower, with another fashioned into a makeshift curtain over the window, and told me in all seriousness that this was an example of a ‘good’ cell. The segregation unit was in poor condition, with cells damaged by previous occupants, sinks and lavatories ripped away and repairs taking too long to achieve.

However, despite the violence, drugs and poor living conditions, the relationships between staff and prisoners seemed generally good. We observed many positive interactions, and the workshops in particular were a good example of cooperative and collaborative relationships. Prisoners said that they felt as if they had left the confines of the prison while they were at activities. This was encouraging, but in other respects the balance had tipped too far towards acceptance of low-level poor behaviour. At the time of the inspection the smoking ban had been in place for a few weeks, but it was clear that it was being widely ignored, and that this was being tolerated by staff. More seriously, inspectors were also left with the very clear impression, and I was explicitly told by more than one prisoner, that staff were not intervening sufficiently to stop some of the violence and bullying on the wings.

For a category C prison, the prisoners were locked up for too much of the time. More than 30% of them were locked in their cells during the working day, restricting their access to many elements of the regime. There needed to be a thorough review with the intention of finding out what was achievable as opposed to what was convenient for the establishment.

There were many good things happening at Portland, but we were left with the clear view that there was a need for effective leadership to take Portland into the future and to shake off many of the vestiges of the past. A new governor was appointed a few weeks before the inspection, and he has the opportunity to ensure that each and every member of his management team is accountable for leading key areas of activity, and that standards are maintained in the services that give rise to frustration from prisoners when they are not efficiently or consistently delivered.

Our survey gave clear indications of what these things were. Too much was delegated outside the governing team. The governor and his senior team now have an opportunity to seize the initiative and drive forward the improvements that are badly needed at Portland.

IMB Reform: National Council to be Scrapped and Replaced by a Chair and Management Board

IMB

The Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, has approved plans to overhaul the national governance structure for Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs).

In July 2014 the Ministry of Justice received an independent report it had commissioned by Karen Page Associates (KPA) (read the report) which looked at the current national IMB system of monitoring in our prisons and in a severe condemnation of the current management and governance arrangements concluded that “critically, IMBs did not have enough credibility with key stakeholders” and that there should be, for the whole national IMB system, “urgent root and branch review and reform of sponsorship, governance and leadership.”

kpaThe KPA Review found among other things:

• Some members did not inspire confidence because of the way they undertook monitoring or because they seemed not to know enough about prisons or immigration removals systems. This minority could affect the way all members were perceived.

• There were unexplained inconsistencies between boards in the way they worked.

• Boards did not express their findings in a sufficiently compelling, evidence based way.

• The arrangements at national level for sharing information and reviewing findings between government and IMBs were, with some exceptions, not sufficiently focused and business-like. There were missed opportunities for cooperation and shared approaches with government and with other government sponsored independent bodies.

In response to the KPA Report the Ministry of Justice set up a closed, invitation-only, Governance Review with three suggested governance formats going forward.

Mark Leech, the Editor of The Prisons Handbook, and an invited contributor to the review said:

“The consultation proposed three potential models for IMB reformed national governance to address concerns around confused governance, leadership and accountability, the first two models really only consisted of a fudging of the current arrangements; Model 3 although not ideal represented the most deep-rooted governance reform – like the majority of the contributors to the Review I opted for option three and this has now been approved, with some minor changes, by the Secretary of State for Justice.”

Key features of the revised Model 3 include:

  • President and National Council replaced by a Chair (a part-time, paid public appointee) and Management Board (a mix of IMB members and Non-Executive Directors, all unpaid, each with their own specialism).  The Management Board will be responsible for setting the policy and strategy, taking on a more executive role than the current National Council does and will be accountable to the Chair.
  • Management Board to be supported by a network of working groups and regional representatives (a function currently provided by the National Council) to support chairs and members in the regions.
  • IMBs continue to be supported by the Secretariat, with the head of the secretariat line-managed by a civil servant but task-managed by the chair of the management board, in accordance with directions set by the Management Board.
  • A new Governance Framework, sitting alongside the Monitoring Framework, to set clear roles and responsibilities for each part of the governance structure.
  • It is important to stress that the structure of IMBs (Chair, Vice Chair and Board Development Officer), their monitoring role and their right to inform the Minister of any concerns will not change under these proposals. 

The Ministry of Justice has said that these changes will of course take time to implement and further changes may be required as the Prison Reform proposals take shape.

Commenting on the decision to implement a revised Model 3 Mark Leech said:

“In May this year, in The Prisons Handbook 2016, my Editorial posed the question as to whether the time had come for IMBs to be abolished as my view was that, as the KPA Review found, the IMB as a national organisation, lacked any credibility with prisoners and indeed with many prison staff too.

“My Editorial was followed by an article written by the then Chair of Hollesley Bay prison IMB Faith Spear, writing under the pseudonym of ‘Daisy Mallet’.

“Faith’s article, “Whistle Blower Without A Whistle”, exposed a shambolic system of monitoring in our prisons that was – as the KPA Review also found – unfit for purpose and in need of complete reform.

“Mrs Spear’s article lifted the lid on a system of prison monitoring in which IMB Members, despite their clear legal independence, were ‘gagged by grooming’ from speaking to the press and, among other things, were coerced in many cases from discharging their full monitoring functions by, for example, failing to visit the prison during night.

“It was a powerful article, and one that set in motion a savage train of events which has seen Mrs Spear treated disgracefully; she is currently suspended from the IMB and facing disciplinary action at the end of this month.”

You can read the Editorial and Mrs Spear’s expose: here

By implementing Model 3, the new governance arrangements of the IMB will see the much-needed scrapping of the discredited and dysfunctional ‘IMB National Council’ and its completely ineffective ‘President’.

Mr Leech said: “Model 3, although the option that brings the most change, is not ideal – real reform will only come when the IMB are removed from the MOJ completely and placed within the Prisons Inspectorate, along with whom it forms a part of the 20-strong National Preventive Mechanism, which discharges custodial monitoring duties owed to the United Nations, but sadly that was not an option that was on the table.”

Prison Governors may be given greater flexibility in education focus

prisons-govePrison governors could be given greater flexibility under plans being considered by Michael Gove to relax the grip of Whitehall on the penal system.

The Justice Secretary wants a greater focus on education in prisons and more businesses working with inmates to help reduce the risk of reoffending when offenders are released.

Mr Gove said under the current system “we don’t devote nearly enough time to educating them” and giving prisoners the skills needed to succeed on the outside.

Under his plans Mr Gove could give governors new powers over budgets, education and even the perks offered to prisoners for good behaviour.

He is also considering extending a scheme under which inmates are allowed out of jail on licence in preparation for their release, The Times reported.

Mr Gove told the newspaper that “central to this job is making sure that people are less likely to commit crime after they leave prison”.

He said: “We are responsible for these people; we can determine what they do, who they see, what happens to them 24 hours a day and we don’t devote nearly enough time to educating them, to making sure that when they are being educated that they are getting the proper qualifications and providing them with the skills that they need in order to succeed in the world of work.”

His plans for “reform prisons” echo other public service shake-ups such as foundation hospitals or academy schools – championed by Mr Gove during his time in charge of the Department for Education – which have a greater degree of independence.

He said: “If you are a head teacher or an NHS manager, you have considerable freedom. The whole thrust of public service reform has been about giving more power to people at the front line and then holding them accountable for outcomes.

“The prison system is behind the curve. A great deal of what a prison governor does is constrained by very tight central regulation.”

Mr Gove encouraged governors to get more businesses working with inmates, praising the work done by key cutting and shoe repair firm Timpson.

“We should definitely have more businesses going into prisons – you could have businesses running in prisons. Timpson in some cases train in prisons, in another prison I visited they have a call centre. Some are conducting market research or answering queries.”

Mr Gove acknowledged that some central government involvement would have to remain in the system, on issues such as pay and security requirements.

“If the worst comes to the worst and something desperately bad happens – like a prison riot – there must be a national response.”

The Justice Secretary also confirmed he was looking at plans to sell off inner-city jails on prime land for development in order to fund more modern prisons.

Mark Icke, the vice president of the Prison Governors’ Association, said Mr Gove had not approached the organisation with details of his “blue sky thinking”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are very much guided by policy and central government. Prisons themselves, and governors up and down the country, do feel frustrated at times being almost handcuffed to certain policies.”

He said the education contract “really does tie some governors up because, in their establishments, it may not quite fit the need to the men and women in custody there”.

Mr Icke said: “The bit that’s missing at the moment and is passing everbody by is that when these men and ladies come into custody it’s not just education they need. These are complex individuals.

“It’s not like academy schools and NHS foundation hospitals where people want to access the service. They don’t really want to access our service.”

Shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer said: “Labour has long said that governors of successful prisons should be given greater autonomy so it is welcome that the Government has finally listened.

“We will look at the details of the proposals but it is important that this is introduced alongside a strengthened inspection regime, including regular, robust and unannounced inspections.

“The right conditions also have to be in place and prisons will never be able to rehabilitate offenders while understaffed, overcrowded and violent.

“Michael Gove must urgently address the crisis in our prisons.”

Four plead to Hatton Garden raid

Left to right: John Collins, Daniel Jones, Terry Perkins, and Brian Reader
Left to right: John Collins, Daniel Jones, Terry Perkins, and Brian Reader

Four men have admitted their role in plotting the Hatton Garden Easter raid which saw valuables worth more than £10 million stolen.

They are John Collins, 74, of Blestoe Walk, Islington, north London; Daniel Jones, 58, of Park Avenue, Enfield, north London; Terry Perkins, 67, of Heene Road, Enfield, north London; and Brian Reader, 76, of Dartford Road, Dartford.

They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, namely to enter Hatton Garden Safe Deposit in London with intent to steal, between January 1 and April 7.

They appeared at Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London, supported by friends and family in the public gallery.

The men will be sentenced at a date to be confirmed.

 

All four men also faced a charge of conspiracy to convert or transfer criminal property, namely a quantity of jewellery and other items between April 1 and May 19, but in light of their guilty pleas in relation to the conspiracy to burgle, Philip Evans, prosecuting, said the Crown would not be pursuing the charge.

Hugh Doyle, 48, of Riverside Gardens, Enfield, north London; William Lincoln, 60, of Winkley Street, Bethnal Green, east London; and taxi driver John Harbinson, 42, of Beresford Gardens, Benfleet, Essex, denied conspiracy.

They also pleaded not guilty to the laundering offence and are due to stand trial later this year.

Paul Reader, 50, of Dartford Road, Dartford, and Carl Wood, 58, of Elderbeck Close, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, are yet to enter pleas.

All nine men appeared in custody and were accompanied in the dock by 13 security guards.

The raid over the Easter weekend saw thieves break into the vault in London’s diamond district, after using a drill to bore a hole 20in deep, 10in high and 18in into the vault wall.

Officers believe they got into the building, which houses a number of businesses, through a communal entrance before disabling the lift so they could climb down the shaft to the basement.

Once inside, the thieves ransacked 73 safety deposit boxes.

After facing criticism for the way the incident was handled, the Metropolitan Police apologised for not following procedures when receiving a call from a security firm about an intruder alert at the premises at midnight on Good Friday.

Flying Squad detectives rejected the suggestion they were bungling “Keystone Cops”.

 

Doyle, Lincoln, and Harbinson are due to stand trial on November 16 this year.

 

Perkins’s daughters also appeared in court, along with their husbands, accused of conspiracy to convert or transfer criminal property between January 1 and May 19 this year.

Brenn Walters, also known as Ben Perkins, 43, and Laura Perkins, 40, both of Manor Court, Enfield, north London, and Terri Robinson, 35, and Steven Robinson, 46, both of Sterling Road, Enfield, were charged in connection with the raid last month.

They are due to next appear in court for a plea hearing on November 12, and a provisional date for their trial has been set for February 22.

Belmarsh prison officer was a “paid mole”

The Prisons Handbook 2015 – out now  /  Home Page  /  Converse Prison Newspaper

 

Robert Norman
Robert Norman

A Kent-based officer at a top-security prison became the “paid mole” of a reporter working at the Daily Mirror and News of the World over the course of five years, a court heard.

Robert Norman, 54, is on trial at the Old Bailey charged with misconduct in a public office while working at HMP Belmarsh, south London, which was home to a number of high-profile prisoners.

He was allegedly paid more than £10,000 for 40 tips to reporter Stephen Moyes between April 30 2006 and May 1 2011.

opening the case, prosecutor Julian Christopher QC said Norman was an “extremely experienced” prison officer, having been appointed in 1992.

He was also a member of the Prison Officers’ Association, acting as union representative to colleagues.

Norman first phoned the Daily Mirror in 2006 and gave Mr Moyes a story about staff cuts at the prison, for which he was paid £400.

The exclusive story described Belmarsh as a “terror prison” and ran alongside a photograph of one of its most notorious prisoners, “hate preacher” Abu Hamza, the court heard.

As the relationship developed, it became a “two-way affair” and Norman carried on dealing with Mr Moyes when the journalist moved to the NotW.

Mr Christopher said: “Sometimes Robert Norman would approach Stephen Moyes with something he thought would be of interest, at other times Stephen Moyes would approach Robert Norman for inside information about a topic in which he was interested, or for confirmation which he would not be able to get for free from the official channels at the Ministry of Justice press office.

“Effectively, Robert Norman became the journalist’s paid mole within HMP Belmarsh.”

The court heard that when Norman was arrested in 2013 he maintained he had acted in the public interest as a whistleblower.

But Mr Christopher said: “Whilst there may well be quite a number of stories which would be said to varying degrees to be concerned with issues in the public interest, the prosecution alleges it is plain that this was not the behaviour of a conscience-driven whistleblower, moved by the desire to see change and accountability where otherwise there would be none.”

Cheques for the stories were made out to Norman’s son Daniel and the money was then transferred into Norman’s account, showing he was “worried about the trouble he would get into” if found out, Mr Christopher said.

The prosecutor said not all the stories Norman handed to Mr Moyes were about staff cuts and security issues.

Some were about particular prisoners, colleagues, and even officers he had been involved with in his capacity as union representative.

Norman, of Milton Street, Swanscombe, denies the charge against him.

The trial continues.

Answer on Terrorist Prisoners Demanded

Ministers must urgently reveal how many prisoners convicted of terror offences have been released from jail on licence so Britain can assess the risk it faces in the wake of the Paris attacks, the Commons has heard.

Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) said it was “absolutely essential” for the Government to divulge the information in the aftermath of the three days of terror that shook France last week.

Two of the Paris attackers – Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly – reportedly met in jail, where the latter is said to have been radicalised, while the former was serving a sentence for a terror offence.

Mr Davies said he had first asked the Ministry of Justice the question in November but in keeping with its “woeful record” in answering parliamentary questions, he has not received a response.

He called on the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to make an urgent statement on the matter “so we can see what risk this country faces from these kinds of people”.

Commons Leader William Hague said he would remind Mr Grayling of the question and spoke of the importance of answering parliamentary questions on time.

During business questions in the Commons, Mr Davies said: “The Ministry of Justice has got a woeful record on answering parliamentary questions on time to such an extent that the Procedure Committee chastised them for it.

“I asked a question on November 18 to ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners convicted of terrorist-related offences have been released on temporary licence in each of the last five years.

“Now it’s bad enough that that question still hasn’t been answered yet.

“But given the nature of the question and the appalling events in Paris recently isn’t it absolutely essential that the Government is on top of how many prisoners convicted of terrorist offences have been released on temporary licence.

“So can you not only urge the Secretary of State to answer the question but actually to come to the House and make a statement so we can see what risk this country faces from these kind of people?”

Mr Hague replied: “You know that the Home Secretary made a statement yesterday about our preparedness to counter terrorist attacks.

“But it is very important that departments give timely answers to questions.

“I certainly attach a great deal of importance to that as does the Procedure Committee.

“The Justice Secretary has explained to the Procedure Committee I believe the measures he is taking to improve the performance of the Ministry of Justice on this but while that is taking place I will remind him of the specific question you have asked.”

Cop admits Gerrard CCTV Charge

A policewoman from Kent has admitted misconduct in a public office in obtaining CCTV footage of an alleged disturbance near to the home of Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard.

Helen Jones, 31, is said to have acted for “criminal or illegal purposes” on the behalf of others, Preston Crown Court heard.

It has previously been reported an altercation took with place with another man after Gerrard, 34, got out of his Range Rover in Formby, Merseyside, last August.

Jones was on a sabbatical from Merseyside Police at the time of the offence and misrepresented that she was on duty as a police constable.

The CCTV recording is understood to have been obtained from a bank in Chapel Lane on August 8.

Jones, who resigned from the force last December, was due to go on trial on Thursday but changed her plea.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said the Crown did not accept the basis of plea.

He said: “The Crown say that this whole enterprise by the defendant was carried out for in effect criminal or illegal purposes to be carried out by others, not necessarily the defendant.

“Her role was to perpetrate criminal and illegal matters, so the defendant’s explanation in law in why she acted is very much in issue.”

Mr Haworth said Jones was “deceitful” on a number of occasions.

She had told lies in police interview about a key to a property where she was staying in London, the prosecutor said.

She was also deceptive in a prepared statement to the police and a later defence statement for the court proceedings, said Mr Haworth.

Mr Haworth said: “She was deceitful, say the Crown, when she set out her defence in a defence statement in denying any involvement in the matter and seeking to set up a defensive alibi.”

Roderick Jones, defending, said it was his client’s position that she did not obtain the footage for a criminal purpose.

He said: “Our position is absolutely contrary to that. This was not an act of criminality, save that Miss Jones accepts she acted completely improprerly in the way she admits in her basis of plea. This was a rather naive gross misjudgment, rather than anything else.”

Jones, from Colchester Close, Chatham, was released on bail to attend a further hearing next Wednesday when a trial of issue on her plea may take place and she may give evidence.

Last year, the Sunday Mirror reported that Gerrard was named in legal papers lodged at the High Court by a man claiming damages following the alleged disturbance.

The newspaper said the civil case had been launched by Paul Alan Lloyd and had named Gerrard, his wife, Alex, 32, and the footballer’s friend, Lee McPartland, as defendants.