County Durham Prison Murder

Durham’s Frankland Prison faces further questions over the safety of its inhabitants and employees after a convicted paedophile was found brutally murdered in his cell.

The victim, Mitchell Harrison, was found dead on the morning of October 1st. Although the coroner reported a rather vague verdict of death caused by “multiple injuries,” it is widely believed that Harrison was disembowelled by two fellow inmates. Nathan Mann, 23, and Michael Parr, 32, both appeared before magistrates on Monday charged with the murder, but spoke only to confirm their names.

The murder is the latest in a string of attacks that have occurred at the prison, which only accepts prisoners with life sentences and those who are considered dangerous “Category A” criminals. Former inmates include Charles Bronson and serial killer Harold Shipman, while the jail currently houses child murderers Peter Chapman and Ian Huntley.

Chapman, who was incarcerated for killing Darlington teenager Ashleigh Hall, received only superficial injuries when he was attacked by an inmate in April 2010. It was the third violent incident in only six weeks at the prison, after three prison guards were injured by a bottle-wielding prisoner, and Ian Huntley had his throat slit by a convicted armed-robber. The Huntley case was closed only a few days ago when Damien Fowkes was given a life sentence for slashing Huntley’s neck and strangling another prisoner at a different institution. Despite the high security given to “Category A” prisoners, child-rapist Harrison was the next inmate to be targeted by fellow prisoners just last week.

At the time of his death Harrison, originally from Wolverhampton, was serving an indefinite sentence for a series of sexual assaults. The latest was committed against a 13 year old girl whom he lured to his house in Kendall, Cumbria, before raping her. Despite Harrison’s sordid past, his family released a statement through Durham Police saying how they “looked forward to the day when the people responsible are brought to justice.” They also added that while they “never condoned his actions”, Harrison was a “model, trusted prisoner who did not deserve to die in this horrific way.”

Harrison’s murder, along with a flurry of recent prison attacks at Frankland and around the country, has given further credence to the recent claim by the Prison Officer’s Association that neither prisoners nor officers are safe within high security prisons. This claim was echoed by the judge who sentenced Huntley’s attacker, Mr Justice Coulson, when he called for a serious review of safety measures in maximum security prisons. Whether a review or reform will materialise before another attack is allowed to take place remains to be seen.

Both Frankland Prison and the Ministry of Justice were unwilling to comment about the ongoing police enquiry.

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