'I almost died': Prison officer stabbed in the back by inmate with broken chilli sauce bottle on why ministers are right FINALLY to issue stab proof vests to all jail staff

  • Claire Lewis scarred for life by attack by triple murderer Kevan Thakrar.
  • Forced to retire from the prison service and now on 'cocktail' of medication
  • U-turn by ministers who had ruled out idea of vests being worn routinely
  • Urgent review looking at giving frontline staff stab-proof ‘covert clothing’
  • Number of knife attacks on staff and inmates has doubled in a decade

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

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A prison officer whose career was ended after an inmate plunged a broken bottle into her back has spoken of her relief that all guards are to be issued with stab vests.

Claire Lewis recalls how she ‘almost died’ when she was attacked by convicted triple murderer Kevan Thakrar three years ago.

But she says she could still be working in one of Britain’s top security jails if ministers had offered routine stab vests sooner.

Victim: Frankland Prison Guard Claire Lewis was left scarred for life after a horrific attack with a broken chilli sauce bottle by convicted killer Kevan Thakrar

Victim: Frankland Prison Guard Claire Lewis was left scarred for life after a horrific attack with a broken chilli sauce bottle by convicted killer Kevan Thakrar

The broken bottle created a one inch hole in Claire' back and chipped her spine
The broken bottle created a one inch hole in Claire' back and chipped her spine

Scarred: The broken bottle created a one inch hole in Claire' back and chipped her spine

A review is being carried out into giving frontline staff ‘covert clothing’ to protect from knife attacks launched by prisoners, MailOnline revealed this week.

The number of prison assaults involving knives has doubled in a decade, with staff at risk of being deliberately attacked by inmates or getting caught up in fights.

One morning in March 2013 Claire and fellow guard Craig Wylde unlocked Thakrar’s cell door at Frankland Prison, a Category A jail in County Durham.

 

Thakrar, serving three life sentences for murdering three men with a machine gun over a 10,000 drug debt, lunged at Craig with a broken chilli sauce bottle, tearing open his upper left arm and severing an artery.

‘Then he turned on me,’ Claire remembers. ‘He used a broken chilli sauce bottle. It snapped in my back and it almost killed me.

‘Had I had protective equipment I wouldn’t have suffered the injuries I suffered.  It left me with a hole about an inch deep and it chipped my spine.

‘As a result I subsequently was medically retired, I have got PTSD. I have lost my career,' she told MailOnline.

Kevan Thakrar, serving three life sentences for murder, was cleared of the attempted murder of Claire Lewis and fellow guard Craig Wylde
Wound: A campaign poster against violence in jails featured a graphic picture of Clair's back after the attack

Attack: Kevan Thakrar, serving three life sentences for murder, was cleared of the attempted murder of Claire Lewis and fellow guard Craig Wylde. A campaign poster (left) against violence in jails featured a graphic picture of Clair's back after the attack

Claire, who lives with her partner Ged Mulheran and two daughters aged 18 and 15, said the attack had a ‘massive impact’ on the entire family, including ‘missing out’ on the years when her children were studying for exams.

‘Now I am on a cocktail of medication as well to assist with pain relief. I used to be physically fit and now I really struggle to do anything without suffering the consequences.’

The decision to issue prison guards with stab vests round the clock comes just two years after the government insisted it was not necessary.

Last year alone there were 246 assaults on staff and inmates in prisons in England and Wales involving a knife or blade, up from 127 in 2002.

Protective vests and gloves are usually only used when trouble breaks out in jails or if prison officers believe there is a serious threat to their own safety.

But now prisons minister Jeremy Wright has revealed that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) which runs the country’s jails is now ‘assessing the benefits and feasibility’ of issuing vests routinely.

here were 246 assaults on staff and inmates in prisons in England and Wales involving a knife or blade, up from 127 in 2002.

Growing problem: There were 246 assaults on staff and inmates in prisons in England and Wales involving a knife or blade last year, up from 127 in 2002

Claire added: ‘It is very humbling to see that the government has finally made the right decision to issue staff with the right equipment.

‘I am over the moon to be honest because I don’t think members of the public actually realise what goes on inside those prison walls.

‘There is a need for protective equipment because the number of assaults is increasing.

‘We are dealing with some of the worst and most hardened criminals in the country. I think the prison service is kind of the forgotten service.

‘Once you are in those walls nobody knows exactly what you deal with on a daily basis.’

After the attack on Clair and Craig, Thakrar was cleared of attempted murder by a jury at Newcastle crown court. He claimed he had been a victim of a culture of racism at the jail and launched the attack in self defence after years of abuse.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Vest or no vest,had he been hanged for his crimes then this wouldn't have happened.

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how did the jury find him not guilty, maybe one day they will be realise how wrong they was.

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where this evil man comes from. Why can't he be sent there to save so much money.

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The prison guards are being let down by human rites and do gooders for if prisoners were routinely cuffed and shackled as they are in American prisons these sort of incidents cannot happen remember you are dealing with mindless thugs with nothing to lose and with knowledge that no matter how many people they kill or maime the will not receive any death penalty from our penal system

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Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Meyer has gone thus far on Support the follow "work at home", it's the nicest thanks to earn additional and extra money reception.$55h $80h...how? half time or full time, i have been transferral in $82h , you'll be able to build $55h simply.Here is nice example recomended by professionals..... Works25.Com

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why do not inmates get the same sort of sentence for assault as on the outside? are pos lives worth any less? a fortnights loss of tv isnt the greatest deterrent in the world

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I do not believe women should be working in male prisons. nor should the inmates have access to any glass objects. the lessons seem a long time in the learning.

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I remember prison in the 80`s,23hr lockup,boiled food,itchy blankets,the hours of uninterrupted boredom,smelly cellmates,one shower a week,slopping out with hundreds of men and too few toilets.I NEVER WENT BACK AGAIN!

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Perhaps our prisons should not be so nice anyway. Who cares if they are unhappy, take away their condiments, take away their phones, personal clothes and anything that can be used for leisure. Prison should be a punishment. Prisoners should be shown no leniency and anyone that attacks an officer should be isolated for the rest of their sentence I say-obviously they cannot be trusted to act in a civilised manner.

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Why is a woman working with violent men? Sorry but that's just asking for trouble.

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