Killing prompts prison review call

Undated handout photo circa 1994 of Colin Hatch. Police were today investigating the suspected murder of the child killer at one of Britain's most secure prisons.
Undated handout photo circa 1994 of Colin Hatch. Police were today investigating the suspected murder of the child killer at one of Britain's most secure prisons.

A JUDGE has called on for an urgent review into maximum security prisons after passing a life sentence on Full Sutton killer, Damien Fowkes.

Sitting at Hull Crown Court, Mr Justice Coulson made the comments after handing out 20 years to Fowkes, who admitted strangling paedophile Colin Hatch in his cell at the category A prison in February, and attempting to murder notorious child killer Ian Huntley in Durham’s HMP Frankland in March last year.

Following a more recent murder at Frankland, in which a child rapist was targeted by two inmates, Mr Justice Coulson admitted: “It is troubling that these attacks were carried out in two different high-security prisons.

“I am particularly concerned that the killing of Hatch took place with prison officers outside the cell, but apparently powerless to save him. I am also aware that over the last few days, another prisoner has been killed at HMP Frankland.

“Whilst everyone is acutely aware of the costs of monitoring vulnerable and high risk prisoners, from what I have seen in this case it appears that the management systems currently in place require urgent review.”

Fowkes, who was serving life for armed robbery, was able to slash the throat of killer Ian Huntley at Frankland prison using a makeshift weapon of a razor blade melted into plastic.

Huntley escaped with his life and spent three days in hospital.

Fowkes was relocated to Full Sutton, where 38-year-old Hatch was serving life for the sexual assault and murder of a seven-year-old boy in 1994.

Despite a tip-off that Fowkes had armed himself , he was able to barricade himself and Hatch into a cell before tying Hatch’s hands and feet together. He then strangled him with cloth torn from the bed sheets.

With prison officers unable to see what was happening, Fowkes threatened to kill Hatch if they tried to gain entry. He insisted Hatch was still alive after strangling him.

Although having an apparent hatred for child murderers, he was living alongside Hatch on the vulnerable wing of the jail.

He denied Hatch’s murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Coulson said: “I am in no doubt you intended to kill Ian Huntley.

“All the evidence points unequivocally to the fact that you intended to kill Hatch. That is particularly clear from the preparations you embarked on, including the cutting of the strips from the sheet in your own cell and the careful plan by which you barricaded yourself in the cell and threatened to kill Hatch as the prison officers endeavoured to enter.

“Subsequently you told prison officers that sex offenders like Hatch and Huntley ‘Do my head in’.

“Accordingly, Damien Fowkes you are sentenced to life imprisonment for the manslaughter of Colin Hatch and the attempted murder of Ian Huntley. The minimum term that you will serve is one of 20 years.”

Fowkes, 36, will now be held in Wakefield Prison.

The judge added “Whilst I am aware that the view has been expressed, in some parts of the press, that the killing of Colin Hatch and the attempted murder of Ian Huntley were somehow lesser offences – deserving lesser sentences – because of the crimes that they had themselves committed, such a view is manifestly wrong, both as a matter of common sense and a matter of law.”