A three-time killer has won £1,000 compensation from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) after a judge ruled that a guard squirted shampoo on his CDs during a prison transfer.
It is the second time in as many years that Kevan Thakrar, who is serving three life sentences for killing drug dealers, has embarrassed the Government. The 27-year-old was awarded more than £800 by the same judge in April 2014 after items including his nose hair clippers were damaged in jail.
Last week’s ruling at Milton Keynes County Court is the result of a claim made by Thakrar in 2013, when he was a prisoner at HMP Woodhill.
He complained that in the course of being moved prisons his stereo was broken, a number of CDs were damaged beyond repair and four books of his were lost. They included Dispatches from the Dark Side by human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce and A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook by Erwin James.
Thakrar further complained that a £31.81 canteen order, which he placed at Woodhill on 10 June 2013, was never fulfilled and that the money was never refunded to him.
Thakrar was jailed in 2008 after he and his brother Miran used a sub-machine gun to kill Keith Cowell, 52, his son Matthew, 17, and Tony Dulieu, 33, from Essex, at the Cowells’ house in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, the previous year. The brothers were also sentenced for two attempted murders.
In March 2010, Thakrar maimed three guards at HM Prison Frankland in County Durham after stabbing them with a broken bottle, but was cleared of two counts of attempted murder and three of wounding with intent after claiming he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
In his judgment published on New Year’s Eve, District Judge Neil Hickman said of Thakrar: “He appears to be intelligent and articulate and has been able to advance his claim in writing through the County Court. Indeed, some would say that the fact that a claim of this kind can be dealt with at modest cost through the County Court system is a good advertisement for the civil justice system of this country.”
But the judge criticised the Government Legal Department, acting on behalf of the MoJ. “I regret to say that I have found them of extremely limited assistance because they lacked objective discussion either of the law or of the evidence,” he said.
The judge ruled: “I am satisfied that the damage to the CDs must have been caused by the deliberate act of one or more prison officers.”
He added: “In human terms it would be wholly understandable that in the light of what happened to their colleagues at HMP Frankland, other prison officers may have wanted to teach Mr Thakrar something of a lesson. But legally it cannot be any sort of justification.”
The judge said that the damage to the stereo and the disappearance of the books were “extremely suspicious”, but it could not be proved that they were deliberate acts.
Thakrar, who did not rely on legal aid to bring the case, was awarded £1,000. A Prison Service spokesman said: “We are considering whether there are grounds to appeal.”
A Prison Service spokesperson said: "We are currently considering this judgment and whether there are grounds to lodge an appeal.
"We robustly defend claims made against the Prison Service where evidence allows, and have managed to successfully defend two thirds of prisoner claims over the last three years."
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