Investigation call over Ian Huntley jail attack

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The Independent Online

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.

Today, the judge 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.

"I am also aware that, over the last few days, another prisoner has been killed at HMP Frankland.

"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.

He said: "Whilst I am aware that the view has been expressed in some parts of the press that the killing of Colin Hatch and the attempted murder of Ian Huntley were somehow lesser offences - deserving lesser sentences - because of the crimes that they had themselves committed, such a view is manifestly wrong, both as a matter of common sense and as a matter of law.

"For the avoidance of doubt, can I stress that that would be so whether the Human Rights Act were in force or not."

Fowkes was already serving a life sentence for armed robbery.

Yesterday, the judge heard that it was Huntley's "good fortune" that the 7in (18cm) wound Fowkes inflicted with a razor melted on to a piece of plastic cutlery missed vital parts of his anatomy.

Prosecutors described how Fowkes chased Huntley around the healthcare unit at the jail, where he worked as a cleaner, brandishing two home-made weapons.

Huntley was in hospital for three days and needed 21 stitches in the wound.

The judge was shown graphic pictures of Huntley's injury in which the killer's face was covered, apparently at his own request.

The court heard that Fowkes asked a prison officer: "Is he dead? I hope so."

When he asked if he had killed Huntley and was told he had not, Fowkes said: "I wish I had."

Huntley, 37, is serving a life sentence for the 2002 murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, with a minimum tariff of 40 years.

Following the attack at Frankland, Fowkes was moved to Full Sutton where he killed Hatch.

Hatch was jailed in 1994 for the sexually motivated murder of seven-year-old Sean Williams in north London, while he was on licence for an attack on another boy.

Fowkes denied murdering Hatch in February this year but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and this was accepted.

Three psychiatrists and two psychologists have examined Fowkes and agreed he has a "deep-seated disorder of great severity".

The court heard he shows "strong psychopathic traits".

Today, the judge reiterated that Fowkes was too dangerous to be placed in a secure mental hospital with other prisoners like Hatch and Huntley.

Fowkes sat in the sealed dock today dressed in a grey sweatshirt and surrounded by five prison officers.

He has a long scar down the left side of his face and a tattoo down the right.

Fowkes showed no emotion and appeared docile in the dock. When he left the court he shouted "Allahu Akbar" - thought to mean "God is greatest".

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."