Prison officer cleared of attack on inmate who asked for extra chips

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An officer from Wormwood Scrubs prison was cleared yesterday of assaulting an inmate who had asked for extra chips at mealtime without permission.

An officer from Wormwood Scrubs prison was cleared yesterday of assaulting an inmate who had asked for extra chips at mealtime without permission.

David Melieres, 32, was found not guilty of assault, occasioning actual bodily harm, on Mark Tribe, a convicted burglar, at the west London prison in July 1997.

He and fellow defendant and officer, Colin Goodger, 37, had been accused of attacking Mr Tribe in a shower room, leaving him with a badly bruised eye and a cut underneath it that needed five stitches.

Mr Melieres and Mr Goodger denied the charge at Blackfriars Crown Court. Mr Melieres also denied asking Mr Goodger to hit him in the face to inflict a wound to help to explain away Mr Tribe's injuries.

The jury is still deliberating on a verdict with regard to Mr Goodger who denies one count of assault, occasioning actual bodily harm, against Mr Tribe.

The officers said they had simply been doing their duty and used approved restraining methods to contain an aggressive prisoner who had struck one of them.

The officers claim Mr Tribe was injured only after he became aggressive and they were forced to restrain him as he flew into a rage about the mealtime reprimand. They say Mr Tribe had lied about how he received his injuries in an effort to win compensation of up to £10,000.

The jury was told Mr Tribe had become increasingly aggressive as he was taken away from the dining area by Mr Melieres until he finally, and without provocation, struck out at the officer.

The prosecution insisted the officers had attacked the prisoner and were indulging in a "conspiracy of lies" to explain away the injuries. Jonathan Higgs, for the prosecutoin, said the beating was given as "punishment" for Mr Tribe having asked for and received more food without permission.

The court was told Mr Melieres beckoned Mr Tribe into the shower room where, he claims, he was struck from behind and nearly knocked out.

Mr Tribe told the court: "I could feel blood trickling down my T-shirt. I was not really sure where it was coming from at this stage but I knew I had been hurt."

Then as he lay slumped on a bench Mr Goodger came into view and whispered to his colleague and allegedly punched the other officer in the face, he said.

Seconds later Mr Tribe said he found himself face down with his head being banged repeatedly against the floor.

A Home Office pathologist told the court the gash he received under his eye was consistent with the wound from a punch.

The hearing against Mr Goodger was adjourned until today.

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