Prison officer describes being ‘stabbed in the head’ during alleged terror attack by inmates

Neil Trundle tells court he was ‘trying to survive’ as he fought two men wearing fake suicide vests

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Thursday 24 September 2020 10:12
Footage of 'terror attack' by prisoners at HMP Whitemoor

A prison officer has described the moment he was “stabbed in the head” during an alleged terror attack by inmates at a high-security jail.

Neil Trundle said he was just “trying to survive” as he fought two attackers, who were wearing fake suicide vests and shouting “Allahu akbar” during the assault at HMP Whitemoor in January.

Brusthom Ziamani, 25, and Baz Hockton, 26, deny attempting to murder Mr Trundle but prosecutors accuse them of attempting to lure him into a cleaning cupboard before attacking him with homemade weapons.

Giving evidence at their trial on Wednesday, the prison officer said Mr Ziamani had asked him to replace a broken spoon.

Mr Trundle said he could see one of the defendants out the corner of his eye as he turned his back to unlock a store cupboard.

“Before I knew it I was on the floor on my back,” he told the Old Bailey. “I was on the floor and I was being attacked.”

Mr Trundle, who has been a prison officer for more than 14 years and was described as “kind and helpful” by the prosecution, said he raised his arms to protect his face and called for help.

“I felt pressure on my body as if people were lying on my body. I could feel stabs, especially to my head,” he added.

“During the attack I was laying on my back and I was trying to kick out … they were focusing on my head, my neck, all vital organs. They had ample opportunity to stab me in the leg or kick me in the leg but they just carried on with the top half.”

Mr Trundle said he did not hear the attackers saying anything, adding: “I was too busy trying to survive.”

Jurors were told that he suffered multiple cuts to his chest, neck, shoulder and arms and still bore scars from the attack.

“I did not realise how bad the damage was to myself until I went to the hospital and looked in the mirror,” the prison officer said.

Two inmates are accused of attempting to murder a prison officer with improvised weapons at HMP Whitemoor

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the incident, which was briefly interrupted when two prison officers and a nurse tried to intervene before being attacked themselves.

They were also shown graphic photos of blood splattered up the wall and covering the floor where the prison officer fell.

Georgina Ibbotson, a prison officer who tried to intervene, told jurors Mr Ziamani had asked her to fetch a spoon earlier the same day but she refused because of a “gut feeling”.

She recalled hearing the prison alarm sound and then seeing Mr Ziamani and Mr Hockton holding weapons.

“They were really hyped up and full of adrenalin, quite intimidating,” she added

“I put my hands out and just said 'whoa'. Mr Ziamani tried to step forward so I put my hands to my belt.

“Mr Ziamani punched me in the face. It was as hard as he could. It was really like a big shock, mostly. I fell to my knees.”

When she got up, she noticed nurse Jayne Cowles on the floor “looking shocked”.

Ms Ibbotson told how she ran to the store cupboard and tried to lock herself inside, adding: “I could feel the blood dripping down my face. I did not know how bad my injuries were. I feared for my life.”

The court heard that Mr Ziamani, who was serving a prison sentence for planning a terror attack on a soldier, and Mr Hockton had formed a “close association” by December.

Mr Trundle said: “Mr Hockton follows in the footsteps of Mr Ziamani. Exercise yard, always together in each other's pockets for a couple of months leading up to this.”

Under cross-examination, he was asked if there was any anti-Muslim feeling at HMP Whitemoor following the terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall by former inmate Usman Khan.

“There would be a lot of emotion for staff who knew (the victims) killed on that day,” Mr Trundle said.

“I did not really know who the students were. It's a sad thing that happened and is one individual who has done that. It's as simple as that.”

Mr Trundle denied the suggestion that he “had it in” for Mr Hockton or ever asked him why he was “wearing a dress”.

He said there had never been any “confrontation or cross words" with Mr Ziamani before the attack.

Opening the trial on Tuesday, prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC said the attack was committed for a “terrorist purpose”.

She added: “It’s the prosecution’s case that the defendants were motivated to commit the attack by extremist Islamic ideology. It was a terrorist attack.”

Extremist Islamist material, including references to Isis propaganda, was found in both men’s cells, the court heard.

Ms Darlow said the defendants had “carefully planned and executed” the attack using several weapons they made inside the prison, and fake suicide vests intended to stop others helping their victim.

Both defendants have denied the attempted murder of Mr Trundle.

They are also accused of an alternative charge of wounding with intent, which Mr Hockton has admitted.

Mr Ziamani has admitted assaulting Ms Ibbotson and Ms Cowles. The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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