The ex-governor of a high security jail where three prison officers were stabbed by a triple murderer said today he felt “let down, dismayed and humiliated” after a jury cleared the inmate of all charges.
Kevan Thakrar, 24, admitted stabbing the members of staff at Frankland Prison, Durham, in March last year with a broken chilli bottle but claimed he lashed out in self-defence as he feared he was about to be attacked.
Thakrar, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of previous prison experiences, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
A jury took eight hours and 15 minutes to clear him of two counts of attempted murder and three counts of wounding with intent.
He was serving at least 35 years of a life sentence for the drug-related murder of three men and the attempted murder of two women carried in Bishops Stortford with his brother Miran in 2007.
David Thompson, who retired as governor of Frankland last month and was in charge when officers Craig Wylde, Claire Lewis and Neil Walker were attacked, was deeply upset by the verdicts.
He said officers Wylde and Lewis will not work in the prison service again and that Mr Walker courageously saved Ms Lewis from worse injuries by tackling Thakrar.
Mr Thompson said afterwards: “I should remind everyone that these officers and every member of staff at Frankland and the prison service in general are public servants.
“Their work is out of sight but it requires the highest level of professionalism, courage and conviction.
“It is often unseen and under-reported.
“They deserve better recognition and they deserve better support than we have seen from the outcome of this case.
“Prison officers have to deal with the country’s most difficult and most dangerous individuals and they have to perform those duties within the confines of the law.
“They are not above the law, nor should they be.
“In this case, other criminal justice professionals have been amazed by how professional and restrained they were in dealing with the assailant immediately after the incident.”
Thakrar, who wept as the verdicts were returned and thanked the jury, claimed he was exposed to racism at Frankland.
Mr Thompson said the injured officers were “decent people”.
“They are not the sort of people who deserve to find themselves in this terrible, hurtful situation,” he said.
“Staff at Frankland and elsewhere across the service will feel let down, dismayed and humiliated by part of the criminal justice system in which they serve.
“Colleagues in other professional agencies have expressed their dismay at how a case like this can be conducted in a manner where the victims feel they are on trial, that they have done something wrong, and then for the assailant to be exonerated.”
Mr Justice Simon thanked the jury at the outcome of the case and instructed that they do not have to sit again for 10 years.
He also expressed sympathy to the injured guards, adding: “It was not part of the defence case in any way that they brought their injuries upon themselves.”