Tyne & Wear

Cleared inmate Kevan Thakrar: Guard tells of stabbing

A prison guard who was stabbed by an inmate serving life for three murders has spoken of his fears after the prisoner was cleared.

Kevan Thakrar, 24, admitted lashing out with a broken bottle at Frankland Prison but claimed self defence and was cleared of attempted murder.

Prison officer Craig Wylde said he feared it had "opened the floodgates".

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) is considering a private prosecution against Thakrar.

Thakrar, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, is serving three life sentences for the drug-related murders of three men and the attempted murder of two women in 2007.

He was cleared of two counts of attempted murder and three of wounding with intent at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday.

Mr Wylde and fellow officers Claire Lewis and Neil Walker were injured in March last year.

'Massive impact'

Thakrar claimed the attack was self-defence in a "pre-emptive strike" following ill-treatment and abuse at the high-security prison, the jury heard.

The court heard he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of previous prison experiences.

Former soldier Mr Wylde said it had had a "massive impact" on him and he still suffered pain and cannot use a knife and fork.

He said: "Staff in the prison service now, I don't see how they can do their job without thinking is the prisoner I am going to unlock here going to come out and attack us just because he can say he has got PTSD.

Image caption Kevan Thakrar is serving a life sentence for a triple murder

"It has opened the floodgates."

Following the verdict, ex-Frankland governor David Thompson said prison staff would feel "let down, dismayed and humiliated".

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA, said: "The POA is of the opinion that there is something wrong with the court system when a convicted murderer admits he attacked prison officers but is then acquitted after he is charged in relation to this offence, regardless of his emotional or mental state at the time."

But Mark Leech, editor of national prisoners' newspaper Converse, said: "Of course prison officers do not deserve to be assaulted, that goes without saying, but all the evidence in this case pointed to Kevan Thakrar suffering from PTSD, and David Thompson does himself nor the Prison Service any credit by simply dismissing that out of hand."

In a statement released after the verdict, Thakrar, who is fighting his murder conviction, said he was sorry for the part he played.

He said: "I hope urgent scrutiny of the appalling treatment and abuse which mounts to nothing short of torture, within the English prison system, is taken."

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."

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