Midlands prison guards took 50 minutes to call medics in hostage situation

Subhan Anwar was murdered at Worcestershire’s Long Lartin Prison

A Midlands prison has been criticised for taking 50 minutes to call in medics after two inmates strangled a child killer in his cell.

An official report into the hostage siege and subsequent murder of Subhan Anwar at Worcestershire’s Long Lartin Prison in February 2013 was published last week.

It found that the authorities took 50 minutes to call in paramedics, who then took a further 30 minutes to reach the prison’s rural location in South Littleton, near Evesham.

The report also revealed that the two killers, who were already serving life sentences for murders committed in the 1980s and 1990s, had both taken hostages during earlier, but separate, prison sieges in 2007 and 2011. The report, from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, added that the pair were only moved onto the vulnerable prisoner wing because they owed prison drug debts.

Gary Smith, 49, and Lee Newell, 45,blamed each other for the death of Anwar, who was tied up and strangled with a pair of jogging bottoms in his cell in a vulnerable prisoner wing on February 14.

The pair were convicted of murdering Anwar last September following a two-week trial at Warwick Crown Court.

Jurors heard that Smith, from Leicester, calmly made Newell a cup of hot chocolate – even taking time to sweeten it with icing sugar – during the stand-off with prison staff.

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Prison staff had initially been told by the men that they had taken Anwar hostage because they were ‘bored’. When they were asked by staff why they had done it, one said through the door: “I am bored and it was something to do.

“I’m not joking – I think he is dead.”

While the siege was ongoing officers heard the pair talking behind the door and one of them saying to the other: “It just snapped. I wonder where he is? I bet Allah has got him.”

Gary Smith (left) and Lee Newell
Gary Smith (left) and Lee Newell

The men later told investigators that the fact he had been a child killer had made him a target.

The report revealed that Newell had 47 prison disciplinary adjudications against him, whilst Smith had 32 proven disciplinary adjudications between 1999 and 2011.

The pair were told they would never be released for killing Anwar, who was himself serving a life sentence for torturing and murdering a two-year-old girl.

The 24-year-old victim, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was convicted of killing his partner’s young daughter Sanam Navsarka in 2008.

The report added: “Both men had previously been involved in hostage-taking, but there had been no recent evidence to indicate that either of them posed any significant risk of violence to other prisoners.”

It criticised the time it took for an ambulance to be called, and said: “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.

“When prison staff first became aware of the incident, they would not have been able to predict how soon medical attention could be given, and we note that because of the prison’s rural location it took almost 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“Although in this case the paramedics were on standby, and able to examine the man as soon as the hostage-takers had been removed from the cell, that would not have been the case if the hostage-takers had been removed earlier.

“A delay in calling an ambulance could have serious consequences in future hostage incidents where a prisoner is still alive. We therefore make the following recommendation: 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.”

The report added that the prison had told Anwar’s family that they would contribute towards his funeral costs, but the family told the investigator they had received no request for assistance.

A response from the prison to the report read: “The relevant contingency plans have now been updated to specifically state that an ambulance is called immediately.”

A prison service spokesman said: “We will look closely at the findings of the inquest and any report the coroner may make to see what lessons can be learned, in addition to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s investigation. We have a zero-tolerance approach to violence of any kind in prison and serious incidents will be reported to the police.”

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