Magic Circle backs inmate who wants conjuring books

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The Independent Online

A maximum security prisoner has won the backing of the Magic Circle in attempt to overturn a ban that stopped him buying magic books in case he taught himself escape tricks.

The convicted murderer, who is behind bars at Frankland jail, Co Durham, complained about the Prison Service ruling in a letter to the prison newspaper, Inside Time.

Shaun Tuley was jailed for life in 2001 for murdering 20-year-old Kellie Mallinson, a prostitute, on a Middlesbrough trading estate.

He said he had been "refused permission on grounds of "operational security problems" to buy a selection of books on the subject of magic, sought in order to be able to pursue my hobby while serving a life sentence".

Tuley has performed tricks inside prison, to entertain his fellow inmates.

He said: "Magic is my hobby, I've been performing since I was a boy."

In his letter to Inside Time, Tuley wrote: "For well over a year now, I have tried to purchase a selection of books on the subject of magic. I have completed all the necessary paperwork yet all requests were given the same negative response

He asked other prisoners with a "like-minded passion for magic" to correspond with him. A prison source said: "We are all big fans of Harry Houdini but I don't really think prison is the right place for his successor."

A Magic Circle spokesman, David Beckley, said: "I can't understand the Prison Service's attitude - unless he asked for books on escapology. Magicians do have skills which enable them to deceive but that is only in an environment controlled by the magician himself.

"The Prison Service should change their minds. Having something objective which he can focus his mind on could actually help him become a model prisoner. It's a great hobby."

A Prison Service spokesman would only say: "The titles requested were not thought appropriate."