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Lorraine Barwell death: Humphrey Burke 'caused brain injuries'

Lorraine Barwell Image copyright PA
Image caption Mother-of-two Lorraine Barwell died from a serious head injury

A custody officer died after being kicked in the head by a prisoner she was escorting to court, a jury has concluded.

The Old Bailey jury decided unanimously that Humphrey Burke, 23, caused "catastrophic" brain injuries to Lorraine Barwell.

Burke had been assessed as unfit to plead to murder due to mental illness.

Mr Justice Singh imposed a hospital order and said Burke should remain at Broadmoor secure hospital.

Following a trial of the facts, the jury deliberated for just 20 minutes before deciding Burke did kick Mrs Barwell in the head at Blackfriars Crown Court in June last year.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Humphrey Burke, 23, kicked Lorraine Barwell in the head causing "catastrophic" injures

Gia Sofokli was on her first day in the job and was "shadowing" the 54-year-old, who had worked at security firm Serco for more than 10 years.

She said: "He just literally pulled his leg back and kicked her... she screamed quite loud and then it was about two seconds before he swung again with his foot but this time it got her in the face.... her head went back but it did not smack the floor. It just snapped back."

Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said Burke had been "unpredictable" at previous Blackfriars hearings where he had pretended to faint, collapse and go limp.

Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption Mrs Barwell was attacked as she escorted the prisoner from Blackfriars Crown Court

At the time of the attack a psychiatric report had been prepared but no definitive diagnosis of mental illness had been made.

Mr Justice Singh imposed a hospital order with a restriction order under the Mental Health Act.

He formally adjourned the Blackfriars case as well as the murder charge, saying Burke could still face trial if he becomes fit to plead in the future.

The judge said Mrs Barwell had been "clearly close to her family who loved her".

Referring to a victim impact statement by her daughter Louise Grennan, he said: "She described in very clear detail the devastating impact that there has been to members of Lorraine Barwell's family over her death."

Det Ch Insp David Reid from the Metropolitan Police said: "Lorraine Barwell was not a threat to Humphrey Burke; she was merely doing her job - the same job that she had carried out with dedication and professionalism for many years."

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