Probe call over Huntley jail attack
A judge has called for an urgent review of systems at high-security prisons after hearing how a psychopathic inmate slashed Soham killer Ian Huntley across the neck and then killed another child murderer at a second jail.
Mr Justice Coulson made his comments after sentencing Damien Fowkes, 36, to life in prison for the attempted murder of Huntley and the manslaughter of paedophile and child-killer Colin Hatch. The judge ruled Fowkes will serve a minimum of 20 years before he is considered for release.
Hull Crown Court has heard how Fowkes attacked Huntley in the healthcare unit at Frankland Prison, in Durham, in March last year, leaving him with a gaping wound.
Fowkes was then transferred to Full Sutton Prison, near York, where he barricaded himself into a cell with Hatch as prison officers waited outside for fear he would kill his prisoner if they entered. He killed Hatch anyway by strangling him with a ligature.
Mr Justice Coulson expressed his concerns, especially following the death of another prisoner at Frankland - child rapist Mitchell Harrison, 23, who was killed at the weekend.
He said: "It is troubling that these two attacks were carried out in two different high-security prisons. I am particularly concerned that the killing of Hatch took place with prison officers outside the cell but apparently powerless to save him.
"Whilst everyone is acutely aware of the costs of monitoring vulnerable and high-risk prisoners, from what I have seen in this case it appears that the management systems currently in place require urgent review."
The judge said the "notoriety" of the two victims had no bearing on the outcome of the case, which he stressed was a combined sentence for both attacks.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "Security procedures are constantly reviewed as a result of every serious incident. As with every death in custody, a thorough, independent investigation by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman will take place."
She added: "Prisons take the responsibility of keeping prisoners, staff and visitors safe extremely seriously. The management of violence and its reduction is central to successful prison management. Strenuous efforts are made to learn from each death in custody or incident of violence."