Double murderer who lost eye in prison attack awarded £85,000

1 April 2021, 16:58

Mr Newell also suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain injury
Mr Newell also suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain injury. Picture: West Mercia Police/PA

By Harriet Whitehead

A twice-convicted murderer who lost an eye in a prison yard attack has been awarded £85,000 in damages.

A judge found the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) failed to protect Lee Newell, 52, from the “savage" attack.

Newell also received a fractured skull and suffered from a severe brain injury in the attack by fellow double killer, Gary Vinter, who attacked Newell in the exercise yard of HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes in November 2014.

Vinter punched Newell to the ground and repeatedly kicked him in the head, before shouting "that is what you get when you mess me about", the High Court heard.

Judge Marquand said Newell was punched in the head "approximately 16 times" when he was on the floor.

Vinter then kicked him in the head "eight times over a period of seven seconds, using alternating feet", briefly walking away before he "returned to kick him in the head another four times", the judge said.

He was kicked in the head one more time before Vinter was removed from the yard.

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Newell is currently serving a life term for the murder of child killer Subhan Anwar at HMP Long Lartin, Worcestershire, in 2013, committed while serving life for a 1988 murder.

He claimed the MoJ negligently failed to protect him from the risk posed by Vinter.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Judge Peter Marquand found the MoJ "was in breach of its obligation to keep the claimant reasonably safe”.

He awarded Newell £85,000 in damages, plus more than £7,000 in interest.

Vinter, who was jailed in 1996 for the murder of a work colleague and given a whole-life tariff for killing his estranged wife in 2008, was given a third life sentence for attempted murder over the attack on Newell.

He previously stabbed Roy Whiting, the killer of schoolgirl Sarah Payne, with a sharpened toilet brush handle in prison in 2011.

Mr Newell was attacked at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes
Mr Newell was attacked at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes . Picture: PA

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At the hearing in February, Newell's barrister Nick Armstrong said Vinter had "a particular history of attacking other prisoners in order to achieve things he wanted".

Vinter attached Newell in a bid to engineer a move to another prison, the High Court heard in February.

In the weeks before the attack, Vinter also threats to prison staff and warned one officer that, if he was to tell Vinter that he was not moving prisons, he had "better do it from behind a shield", the court heard.

Jack Holborn, representing the MoJ, said Vinter's threats before the attack "were of a general nature, indicating that he might use violence against staff, not prisoners, to get what he wanted".

He argued that "such generalised threats were a not uncommon tactic amongst violent prisoners... to get what they wanted".

Mr Holborn said both men involved in the incident were "dangerous and violent", but that the MoJ could not keep them "permanently locked up and segregated from other prisoners".

Judge Marquand ruled that the decision made the day before the attack to allow Vinter "to associate with" Newell was in breach of the MoJ's duty of care.

The judge said: "The conclusion that should have been reached was to take steps to remove Vinter's association with other prisoners."