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Prison officers told: ‘Someone will be hurt’

Inmate’s warning before fatal stabbing

29 September, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Victim Jamal Mahmoud

PRISON officers were warned that someone would get “seriously hurt” if three inmates were let out of their cell just hours before a fellow prisoner was brutally killed, a court has heard.

Jamal Mahmoud, 21, was stabbed to death at Pentonville Prison’s G wing on October 18 of last year in what prosecutors have described as “an execution”.

A jury at the Old Bailey was told Mr Mahmoud and one of his associates were attacked by inmates Basana Kimbembi, 35, Joshua Ratner, 27, and Robert Butler, 31 – who deny murder – as part of a dispute over control of the trade in contraband on the wing.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, James Day, a cleaning officer on G wing, said an inmate had told him trouble was brewing just hours before the killing.

He said he had gone to collect food from the prison kitchen with inmate Dayib Ibrahim, who told him if cells 214 and 213 – those occupied by the defendants – were opened “there would be trouble”.

“He sounded concerned,” Mr Day said. “He said it was going to kick off. He stated: ‘Close G213 and G214’, because they owe [another inmate on the wing] £10,000. He didn’t state in relation to what [the debt] was.

“He said: ‘Someone is going to get seriously hurt. Don’t let them out’.”

The prison officer said he relayed to Dizzy Vergo, supervising officer for G wing, what he had just been told, and later warned her again about what Mr Ibrahim had told him.

Ms Vergo then spoke to Louisa Langridge, governor in charge of security, before going to speak to the men in their cells.

Mr Day said: “She [Ms Vergo] said she spoke to the occupants of the cells about the information she had been given and they turned round and said they didn’t know what she was on about.”

Ms Vergo then asked him to contact Ms Langride again, but he was not able to get her on the phone. Ms Vergo proceeded to open cell 213 and 214 moments later, Mr Day told the jury. The killing occurred around 20 minutes later.

The court heard that Kimbembi, Ratner and Butler were in two adjacent cells on the wing’s second floor.

They had become involved in a dispute with Mr Mahmoud, who occupied a cell on the fifth floor that gave him control over the supply of phones, weapons and drugs to the Caledonian Road prison.

The stabbing took place on the fifth floor just after 3pm, outside cells in an area not covered by CCTV cameras.

Last week, the jury saw CCTV footage that appeared to show Kimbembi being handed what appeared to be a weapon by another inmate, which he proceeded to tuck into his tracksuit bottoms shortly before the killing.

In other clips shown to the jury Mr Mahmoud had by now placed a rolled up blue towel around his neck. The Crown says this was to protect himself, in anticipation of the violence that both sides knew was coming.

According to a witness, Kimbembi, accompanied by Ratner and Butler – who were all armed – went up to the fifth floor where a fight broke out. He stabbed another prisoner in the back and grabbed Mr Mahmoud before plunging the blade into his chest, the court heard.

The three men also deny wounding another prisoner, Mohammed Ali.

The trial continues.

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