Double murderer who lost an eye in prison yard attack sues Ministry of Justice for up to £111,000

George Martin
·2 min read
General View of HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes.   (Photo by Chris Radburn - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

The attack took place at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes. (PA)

A convicted murderer who lost an eye in a prison attack by a fellow inmate is suing the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) over his injuries.

Lee Newell, 52, also suffered a brain injury in the assault and is seeking up to £111,000 in damages from the MoJ, which he claims failed to protect him.

Newell, who is serving a whole-life sentence for two murders, was "savagely" attacked by another killer Gary Vinter 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 in a bid to engineer a move to another prison, the High Court heard.

Exterior signage of UK Government Office in Westminster, London

The Ministry of Justice is accused of failing to protect the prisoner. (PA)

Newell was originally jailed for a murder in 1988 but went on to kill another inmate, Subhan Anwar, at HMP Long Lartin, Worcestershire, in 2013.

Vinter was jailed for killing a work colleague in 1996 and was given a whole-life term for killing his estranged wife in 2008.

Read more: ‘Worrying’ rise of prison staff contracting coronavirus

He was given a third life sentence for attempted murder over the attack on Newell and the High Court heard he had “a particular history of attacking other prisoners in order to achieve things he wanted”.

Newell’s barrister Nick Armstrong told the court that the “obvious safeguard” to prevent the attack was to stop Vinter associating with other prisoners.

“Had that been done, the attack could not have taken place," he added.

He argued that Newell should be awarded damages of between £13,000 and £36,000 for the brain injury, £46,000 to £56,000 for the damage to his eye and between £9,000 and £19,000 for facial injuries which may require further surgery.

Jack Holborn, representing the MoJ, said that both Newell and Vinter were “dangerous and violent men”, but that the MoJ could not keep them “permanently locked up and segregated from other prisoners”.

He concluded: “Even if there had been 10 officers outside of the door (of the exercise yard), it is clear they could not have intervened in the 27 seconds that it took for Vinter to cause the injuries to Newell.”

Mr Holborn also said that an award of around £75,000 in damages would be appropriate in the event that the MoJ is found liable to Newell for the attack.

The hearing before Judge Peter Marquand is due to conclude on Wednesday and it is expected that judgment will be reserved to a later date.