Prison killer 'sent boasting letters to racist gangmates'

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The Independent Online

A racist prisoner who battered his Asian cellmate to death was part of a circle of murderous inmates scattered across British jails who plotted violent hate crimes, an inquiry was told yesterday.

A racist prisoner who battered his Asian cellmate to death was part of a circle of murderous inmates scattered across British jails who plotted violent hate crimes, an inquiry was told yesterday.

Robert Stewart, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Zahid Mubarek four years ago, wrote to friends gloating over killings they had committed and predicting he would kill his "padmate" while dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan and carrying a flaming crucifix.

Giving evidence at the second day of the judicial inquiry into the death of Mr Mubarek, his family's lawyer said the "sickening timing" of Stewart's attack, just hours before Zahid was due to be released, had been deliberate. Patrick O'Connor QC said: "This was no accident. The evidence will disclose that Robert Stewart was one of a group of murderous associates in other prisons."

The inquiry, chaired by Mr Justice Keith, was told that Stewart had been copying his fellow gang members by choosing significant dates to carry out their killings. His best friend while in prison had murdered another inmate on day of his victim's 17th birthday, while another associate, also serving a prison sentence, had killed his victim on the day of his grandmother's funeral, Mr O'Connor said. In a letter to one member of the gang, Stewart proclaimed: "We are all evil."

Underlining the premeditated nature of Stewart's racism, the inquiry in central London heard that, after the murder of Mr Mubarek at the Feltham young offenders' institution in west London, the killer wrote to his brother inciting him to harass his victim's family and supplying their address. Stewart wrote: "Do you want to get up to some of your phone antics? Do some dodgy orders? ... It's an old friend of ours."

In other letters, displaying what Mr O'Connor described as "utter, callous indifference", Stewart, now 24, gave graphic descriptions of how he bludgeoned his 19-year-old cellmate with a table leg while he slept. The killer, who had been diagnosed as a psychopath, also promised to send a friend copies of autopsy photographs of Mr Mubarek.

The inquiry heard that Mr Mubarek, from Walthamstow, east London, who was serving three months for theft, had written to his family expressing remorse while in custody. The teenager, described as a model prisoner, said: "Dad, I knew I should have listened to you ... Tell my mum I love her so much and not to worry."

The Prison Service has apologised to the Mubarek family.

Mr O'Connor asked the inquiry chairman not to be swayed by claims from the Home Office that the mistakes which led to the killing could not be repeated. The barrister, who has said the Prison Service missed 14 opportunities to save Mr Mubarek from his killer, said: "You will be suffocated with assurances that all but a few problems are history. The buzz words will buzz, the cliches will flow. Penetrating jargon will only be a first step."