Prisoner gets apology from ombudsman over attack inquiry

 

A triple murderer who attacked three prison officers with a broken bottle while serving a life sentence has secured an apology after authorities failed to properly investigate claims that he had been attacked by warders in his cell.

The Prisons Ombudsman, which investigates inmates’ complaints, sent a letter of apology to Kevin Thakrar after a critical report highlighted shortcomings in their inquiries into an incident that the convicted killer said had left him traumatised and suicidal.

Thakrar claimed that several officers attacked him in May 2008 when they went into his cell at Woodhill Prison, Buckinghamshire. The officer denied wrongdoing and said they that restrained him because he was behaving aggressively.

Two years after the alleged assault at Woodhill Prison, Thakrar attacked three prison warders with a broken bottle while he said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He had barricaded himself inside his cell after become paranoid that wardens were plotting against him, a court heard.

One of the officers nearly lost an arm in the attack at Frankland Prison, Durham, but Thakrar, of Stevenage, Herts, was cleared at a trial of attempted murder last year. Thakrar’s legal team had claimed that he endured a catalogue of racist abuse and assaults while in custody.

Thakrar was jailed for life in 2008 after he was found to have been present when three men were shot dead with a sub-machine gun during a drugs deal. Thakrar’s brother, who pulled the trigger, was also jailed for life.

Since then, Thakrar has made repeated complaints about his treatment in prison and had 180 investigated over the last four years but the parliamentary ombudsman ruled in June that he suffered “injustice” after the ombudsman failed to properly investigate the alleged assault.

Nigel Newcomen, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman who took on the post in September 2011, said there was confusion about what Thakrar wanted to be investigated. But he added: “I take the Parliamentary Commissioner’s report extremely seriously. Where we have got something wrong, it is essential we learn lessons and improve… a new investigation into the original allegations is under way.”

“I am committed to ensuring that any deficiencies exposed by this case are remedied.”

Mr Newcomen defended his organisation’s role to “robustly and independently” investigate complaints about the treatment of those in custody.

But Mark Leech, the editor of the prison newspaper Converse, said: “We need a robust, open, transparent and accountable Prisons Ombudsman, one which enjoys the credibility of those it investigates as well as the confidence of those who make the complaints to it; at the moment it has neither and therein lays the danger.”