The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman ordered Worcestershire’s HMP Long Lartin jail to improve procedure following the hostage siege and murder of Subhan Anwar, who was serving 23 years for killing his partner’s two-year-old daughter.
Fellow inmates Gary Smith, 49, and Lee Newell, 45, had both held separate prison sieges in 2007 and 2011, yet were moved into the vulnerable prisoner wing where Anwar was being held.
The ombudsman’s report revealed how the pair, who were serving life sentences for murder, followed their victim into his cell last February. They covered the observation panel and tied their victim to a chair then strangled him using a pair of jogging bottoms.
The report read: “At 6.41pm, she (on-duty officer) answered a call from the man’s cell. The person on the intercom said, ‘Miss, I have taken the guy in this cell hostage’.”
A search through prison records showed that in September 2011, Smith took another prisoner hostage on a vulnerable prisoner wing at Long Lartin. He explained his actions as an attempt to get staff to listen to him and that he had accrued drug debts. Newell had taken another man hostage to contrive another to another prison four years earlier.
Even though Newell and Smith had indicated Anwar was dead early in the stand-off, staff were criticised in the report for taking 50 minutes to call an ambulance after the pair told them this.
“While it would not have altered the outcome for the man we consider that an ambulance should have been called as soon as it became apparent that there was the possibility of serious injury which would require immediate medical attention,” it said.
“The governor of Long Lartin should ensure that in the event of a hostage incident, staff call an ambulance immediately if there is any indication that a prisoner has been or could be injured.”
Policy at the prison has since been changed. The ombudsman also noted that new guidelines on hostage situations have been implemented since the events.
Newell and Smith were convicted of murdering Anwar last September following a two-week trial at Warwick Crown Court.
When interviewed, they said they had targeted the 24-year-old, convicted of murdering Sanam Navsarka at Bradford Crown Court in 2009, because of the nature of his crime.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to violence of any kind in prison. The prison service has accepted the recommendation to call an ambulance in the event of any future hostage situation, where there is a risk of injury.”
According to the report Anwar’s family had been offered a contribution towards funeral costs in the wake of his death, but never took up the offer.