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Murderer’s dental pain payout cut

A triple murderer who won damages over a failure by the prison service to provide him with adequate dental care had his compensation reduced by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Michael Steele, who is serving life for a triple gangland killing which came to be known as the ‘Essex boys murder’, was awarded £66,400, inclusive of interest, after he suffered toothache over a period of almost seven years. Part of the July 2009 award against the Home Office, as the department responsible for HM Prison Service, was a sum of £45,000 for pain and suffering.

Ruling yesterday on an appeal brought by the Home Office, three judges in London reduced the £45,000 to £25,000.

Giving the ruling of the court, Lady Justice Smith, sitting with Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Carnwath, said that as a young man Steele, who is now in his sixties, “sustained damage to his teeth while playing rugby”.

During the 1980s and 1990s he underwent extensive restorative work and since his “incarceration he has needed a good deal of dental treatment”.

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