Fear for guards as prisoner is acquitted of knife attack

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A PRISONER who claimed he was the victim of vicious beatings at Woodhill Prison has been acquitted of trying to kill three prison wardens.

Despite admitting stabbing three staff at Frankland Prison, near Durham City, Kevan Thakrar was cleared of all charges after claiming he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by alleged earlier beatings by officers at Woodhill.

Thakrar, 24, was sentenced to serve at least 35 years for murdering three men and the attempted murder of two women in Hertfordshire in 2007.

He attacked three guards with a broken bottle, two of whom have been left unable to return to work.

Now pressure is mounting for a review of the criminal justice system after Durham Police Deputy Chief Constable Mike Barton called the acquittal incomprehensible, unbelievable and flabbergasting.

He said it had put prison officers in an untenable position without reasonable protection.

He added: “Like any right-minded member of the public, I am completely nonplussed.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “The outcome of this case will not weaken our resolve to ensure prisons are safe, secure and decent places to both live and work. Violence in any form is not acceptable.

“Staff do a very difficult job and we remain determined to work with the police to seek prosecution for assault in all appropriate cases.”

The Prison Officers’ Association is now considering funding a private prosecution of Thakrar.

They said officers were appalled and amazed, and said inmates had been given a green light to claim post traumatic stress disorder.

A spokesman said: “We are not getting the necessary protection. We are not asking for special treatment – just the same as anyone else.

“The criminal justice system has let us down. It is a miscarriage of justice.

“If the system is going to act like this, our members will never get justice. If the Government aren’t going to protect our safety, we will.”