The parents of a prisoner who was beaten to death by his
schizophrenic cellmate have renewed their call for a public inquiry
in the wake of Zahid Mubarek’s death.
Paul and Audrey Edwards’ son Christopher was killed by his
cellmate Richard Lindford, who had a long history of violence, at
Chelmsford Prison in 1994. The government refused to authorise a
public inquiry despite a judgement by the European Court of Human
Rights in 2002 that Christopher had been denied his right to life
as a result of the “systematic failure” of the public agencies
A failure to pass on information about Lindford to the prison
authorities and the “inadequate” screening process on Lindford’s
arrival at the prison were highlighted by the court.
Similar failings have been identified in the Mubarek case
regarding the treatment of his killer, cellmate Robert Stewart, who
had been described as a psychopath but was still placed in a shared
cell at Feltham young offender institution without being
Stewart murdered Mubarek in March 2000.
This week the Edwards said that the government should give them
the same opportunity as the Mubarek family to secure a full
Paul Edwards said: “All we ask from the government is justice
for our son and this cannot be achieved until all the facts have
been investigated in public.”
Last week, the Mubarek inquiry heard that the “constant flux” of
prisoner population made it difficult for staff to forge
relationships with the boys or perform “ad hoc” risk
Lucy Bogue, the then chair of the Independent Monitoring Board,
told the inquiry: “Such an ad hoc assessment would have been
decisive in identifying that Robert Stewart was an unsuitable cell
companion for Zahid Mubarek.”
Bogue went on to accuse former home secretaries Michael Howard
and Jack Straw of having failed to respond to the “degrading”
conditions at Feltham.
Bogue said there had been “unacceptably high levels” of
self-harm at Feltham, with staff being forced to save lives “on a
daily basis” in the period leading up to Mubarek’s murder.
The inquiry continues.