A prisoner frustrated at still being behind bars years after his tariff sentence was over started a fire in his cell in a suicide bid.
Richard Huxley was given an indeterminate sentence - which are now outlawed - in February 2006 for attempted robbery and assault and ordered to serve a minimum of two years.
But he is still behind bars more than 11 years later - having now spent more than a third of his life in jail and his lawyer told Liverpool Crown Court that he was trapped in a vicious cycle - “On one hand he is unsuitable to be released because he is unstable and the longer he is in custody the more unstable he seems to become.”
The court heard that Huxley set fire to his cell at Risley Prison near Warrington on May 10 last year just before 6.45pm and staff rushed there when the fire alarm sounded.
The blaze involved plastic items creating “toxicity and smoke” and officers had to don protective smoke hoods.
Chris Taylor, prosecuting. “The smoke was so bad they had to crawl on the floor and use sweeping motions to find him and pull him from the cell.
“The north side the E-wing, involving about 75 prisoners, had to be evacuated and re-located and two fire tenders were automatically sent to the prison.
“The cell had to be cleaned by specialists, repainted and re-furnished and the total bill for the incident was £4,729. When interviewed Huxley said he had wanted to kill himself because of a combination of frustration and his medication.
“In hindsight he said he was sorry but at the time just simply did not care.”
Jez I couldn't disagree more with the judges comments. If someone's hope is removed from ever being released then sooner or later the overwhelming urge to end your life is a real possibility especially if conditions inside are so laborious and degrading. I would even make the point that a sentence with no end date could cause more trauma than capital punishment. At least with that there is an end to the suffering. Clearly he has not received the help and support he needed, to deprive someone of their mental health needs regardless as to whether they are in prison or not is a breach of the trust us citizens place in our governments obligations to provide for those that are unwell.
Prison Law – May 2017
Q I have recently been sentenced and was shocked to find serious factual errors in my pre-sentencing report. I have written two letters of complaint to the manager of the probation service but have received no response whatsoever. Do I have any options to have the errors amended or are probation officers able to write whatever they want with impunity? I have now been told the same probation officer will be supervising me on release. Considering the way she handled my PSR I would rather have someone else. Can I request a different probation officer? Who should I complain to about the conduct of this probation officer?
A Unfortunately, there is little we can do to assist as this needs to be addressed with Probation. I would advise you to make a formal complaint to the Probation Service and ask that your case is looked into to allow any factual errors to be amended. Should you receive no response or an unsatisfactory response from the Probation Service
you can escalate your complaint to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.
As you will be aware, your pre-sentence report will form part of your Dossier which will be considered at each review you have. Any incorrect information, particularly where it relates to your offence should be rectified to allow for informed decisions to be made on your risk and manageability in the community upon release.
In terms of requesting a new Offender Manager you should be aware that there is no guarantee that you will remain with the same Offender Manager throughout your sentence. It is very important that you have a good relationship with your Offender Manager as they will effectively manage you upon release and therefore you should do your best to engage with them and build a relationship. If you feel that this is not possible you could always request a new Offender Manager although there is no guarantee of this. To do so you would need to make a request to the Probation Service.
Response provided by Hine Solicitors
Q I was transferred to another prison following the riots. I was told my property would be transferred, this has not happened. I have written to the Ombudsman and exhausted every possible route and I am still getting nowhere. I am due to be released and need my stuff, what else can I do?
A If you have not already received a response from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and/or the Independent Monitoring Board then I recommend that you await the outcome of these requests. Once received, your best option may be to then consult a firm of solicitors who specialise in assisting with civil matters, as proceedings can potentially be taken against the prison service for the recovery/loss of your items.
Unfortunately, issues of lost property within the prison are not covered by legal aid. You may however be able to obtain legal advice from a solicitor specialising in these issues on a private paying basis. You may also wish to explore the possibility of approaching a solicitor who specialises in either medical negligence or actions against the prison, if you feel this is necessary in your case.
Response provided by Hine Solicitors
Q I am an IPP inmate with a tariff of 2 years 80 days which was up in December 2010. I waited almost 5 years to complete a course, which I have now done (end of 2016) so I am hoping for open conditions later this year. Some time ago I read that IPPs could claim compensation for these kinds of delays. Firstly, is this still the case? Secondly, can you advise on a solicitor that will take this kind of case?
A There has been some confusion in the media regarding compensation that can be paid to prisoners. There have been several cases before the courts in recent years and it is important to distinguish between two different types of cases.
The first kind of case that attracts compensation is when the Parole Board has delayed listing for a period in excess of three months from the date of directing an oral hearing. If it is simply a question of delay in listing then there is a set formula for compensation that will follow as a matter of course.
However, it is worth noting that the Parole Board do not pay costs and so a solicitor taking the case might want his costs deducted from the figure offered. Unless the prisoner is released the compensation is likely to be in the hundreds of pounds’ region and so it might be worth asking the lawyer dealing with your parole review if he would take the compensation case pro bono.
The other and more difficult set of cases relate to delays in accessing programmes. The best answer I can give is that there are situations where compensation has been awarded but every case will depend upon its own facts. The courts have unsurprisingly been slow to countenance claims for compensation. You ask about lawyers who might take this sort of case. I would suggest that the lawyer who has been dealing with your IPP reviews is best placed to advise as to whether the delay is actionable. Going to another lawyer might involve preliminary cost as Legal Aid may not be readily available.Response provided by Stevens Solicitors
Event 8th June 2017 Algorithmic Criminal Justice: Using Big Data to Inform Sentencing and Policinghttps://www.law.ox.ac.uk/events/algorithmic-criminal-justice-using-big-data-inform-sentencing-and-policing