Prison guard at HMP Frankland required hospitalization and 12 stitches after violent prisoner attack

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A ‘violent’ prisoner at HMP Frankland attacked a guard and subjected him to 12 stitches after grabbing his ear.



HMP Frankland prison in County Durham.


© BBC
HMP Frankland prison in County Durham.

Christopher Phillips seriously injured the warden after attacking him in his cell at Brasside Grade A men’s prison, County Durham, on March 17 last year. The 40-year-old knocked the male guard to the ground before grabbing his ear, which landed the man in hospital.

Phillips appeared at Durham Crown Court on Wednesday via a link from HMP Durham to be convicted of unlawful wounding. He pleaded guilty to the charge at a previous hearing.

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Andrew Walker, prosecuting, said the guard, who has 20 years’ experience, was on duty in the prison’s Westgate Unit, which houses prisoners with complex personality disorders. He said: “Over several weeks the defendant’s behavior had deteriorated and he had already made verbal threats against staff. On some occasions the defendant refused to be given medication.”

The court heard that on the morning of March 17, Phillips was let out of his cell in order to receive treatment, then became ‘agitated’ after discovering he was to be moved from HMP Frankland that day to another prison. The guard had then taken Phillips back to his cell and was about to lock him up again.

Mr Walker said: “The defendant slammed the cell door and began kicking. The defendant glared at the complainant before charging towards him. He grabbed the door and l slammed against the wall.” The prison officer then attempted to lock him in the cell, but Phillips was able to “overpower” and push him, resulting in a “fight”. It was then that Phillips grabbed the officer’s left ear and pulled it.

The guard then fell to the ground, while Phillips “maintained his aching grip” and began to issue verbal threats. Other officers quickly became aware of what was happening and managed to enter the cell to stop the attack. Mr Walker said the victim was taken to hospital for treatment of a ‘complex wound’ which left the cartilage in the ear ‘visible’. The wound required 12 stitches.

In a victim impact statement, the prison officer said he had been off work for a year and was still suffering from PTSD and flashbacks to the attack. He said the incident left him “anxious” and “worthless”. The agent has since returned to part-time work, but still suffers from mental and physical issues.

The court heard Phillips had 42 convictions for 77 offenses and was sentenced to an extended 10-year prison term in 2012 for arson. He was also sentenced to four months in prison last year for assaulting a rescue worker.

Stephen Hamill, defending, said it was an “impulsive, spontaneous and short-lived assault” and that Phillips had “serious mental health issues”. He said: “The defendant is sorry and would like the complainant to know that it was stupid and that he should have thought about his actions. He is ashamed of his actions but is reassured that the officer has returned to the work.”

Judge Ray Singh called Phillips a man “prone to use violence” and called him a “violent individual”. He imprisoned Phillips for 32 months.

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