Inmate 'feared guards may kill him'


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The Independent Online

A prisoner stabbed three prison guards because he was afraid they were about to kill him, a court heard today.

Kevan Thakrar lashed out with a broken glass bottle of hot pepper sauce when officers at Frankland High Security Prison unlocked his cell door in March last year.


The inmate said he "felt as though he was on TV" during the 20-second assault.


Thakrar, who was jailed in 2008 for murder and attempted murder, had barricaded himself inside using his cell locker after becoming "paranoid" that wardens were plotting to do him harm.


The former shop assistant and student admits attacking officers Craig Wylde, Claire Lewis and Neil Walker but claims he was mentally ill and acted in self-defence.


A trial at Newcastle Crown Court heard how the 24-year-old, originally from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was taken to a holding cell where he was beaten and sexually assaulted following the attack.


Thakrar said he saw his cell door "open a crack" then Officer Lewis step back immediately.


He told the court: "I don't know why she did that.


"They would normally open a door and lean forward so the door would open in against the wall but that did not happen.


"I did not feel safe. I thought they were going to attack me."


Thakrar lunged at Officer Wylde, stabbing him in the armpit with the broken bottle he had in his right hand.


He then attacked Officer Lewis, chasing her along the prison landing and inflicting a wound that left a shard of broken glass embedded in her spine.


Asked by Joe Stone, defending, why he ran after her, Thakrar said: "There was more officers to the left than there was to the right. If I did not run I was not safe; they were going to kill me.


"It was not as if I was running towards a particular person, it was just a uniform. They are all in uniform; they are all the same."


The jury watched CCTV of Thakrar advancing on Officer Lewis, holding his hands out to his sides.


He said: "I remember saying, 'now tell me I'm getting no food'. I lunged at her and stabbed her in the back.


"I remember it was just like I was not there; from when the door opened.


"It was like I was watching it on TV and I was not actually part of what was going on."


Asked whether he intended to kill her, he said: "No, I just wanted to save myself.


"I was not safe and I was running because I did not feel safe.


"I wanted them all to be away from me. I did not want them near me.


"Once I was taken to the floor I kind of switched off.


"I did not put up any fight.


"I went numb; it was like I was not there."


Thakrar was then dragged in handcuffs by prison guards to a segregation cell, the court heard.


He said: "It was a cream-coloured cell, with blood splattered everywhere.


"I was thrown face down and my face was smashed to the floor.


"As I turned my face to the side somebody punched me.


"I was still in handcuffs and could not move.


"They stripped me naked and pulled my trousers off.


"They were placing my head down on the floor then kicking it.


"My lip burst then my nose started to bleed, and I started to choke on blood.


"They kept telling me to stop struggling but I was not moving at all.


"They were making the usual racist comments, 'you have had it coming Paki', stuff like that, then they said 'you want to f*** with one of our officers, we will f*** with you."


He alleged he was then held face down and sexually assaulted as his legs were held apart.


"I don't know what happened," he said.


"I turned my head and one of the guards walked up to the step and he stepped forward to kick me.


"The next thing, I woke up and I was the only one in the room. No-one else was there."


Mr Stone said it was likely Thakrar was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the attack, after enduring a catalogue of racist abuse and assaults while in custody.


He told the jury what the defendant did "could not in a million years" normally be described as self-defence.


But he said: "If you are suffering from PTSD because of your prison experiences, that can make you think there is a threat there from your perspective, rather than one in reality."


Thakrar denies attempted murder and wounding with intent.


The trial continues tomorrow.