Prisoner who sliced Northampton inmate's throat handed second life sentence

Damien Fowkes

Damien Fowkes

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A prisoner has been given an additional life sentence for trying to kill an inmate from Northampton who had slashed the throat of child killer Ian Huntley.

Kevin McCarthy, 49, used a "homemade knife-type weapon" to slice Damien Fowkes' neck during the attack behind bars at HMP Whitemoor.

Fowkes, 41, suffered a 30cm laceration and had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for the life-threatening injury on October 2 last year.

A court heard yesterday, Wednesday, how it was the third time McCarthy had attempted to kill a fellow prisoner in this fashion.

Prosecutor Peter Gair described how there was "no evidence as to why there was an attack on Mr Fowkes" other than an "argument over the cleaning in the kitchen".

He said on the day in question it was heard how a prison officer overheard three inmates "bitching about Kevin McCarthy" in the kitchen.

This was before the attack in a common area of the close supervision centre they inhabited.

Describing the events, Mr Gair said: "At 11.13am McCarthy stands behind Mr Fowkes and swipes his hand across his throat, using a home-made knife type weapon.

"Mr Fowkes was heard saying 'why have you done this?'"

A prison officer named Alexander Stewart then intervened by standing between the two men.

He then held McCarthy's wrists saying "give me the weapon, give me the weapon."

The court heard that Mr Stewart was suffering from terminal cancer and died last week.

The judge commended his bravery. He said: "His bravery in the way he dealt with this incident was beyond what is often expected and is to be credited.

"His family should be told of his astounding bravery."

Other than this event the court heard how prison officers said it was an otherwise "uneventful morning."

Judge David Farrell said: "The only reason this wasn't fatal was that the laceration simply wasn't deep enough.

"Just by luck it wasn't - otherwise it would have resulted in his death.

"Mr Fowkes has been left in pain and with a large scar.

"This was a premeditated planned attack with a homemade weapon specifically made for the purpose."

Prosecutor Gair also explained how Fowkes is paranoid another inmate will "finish him off."

Mitigating for McCarthy, Neil Guest said he would "on the blessings of his client" keep his speech short and that the only factor he could mention was his early plea.

The court was told by Judge David Farrell that McCarthy had a huge list of previous convictions dating back to 1990 when he was imprisoned for wounding with intent.

In 2012 he attempted to murder an inmate by slashing their throat and received his first life sentence, and was serving a life sentence with a minimum of 14 years for another identical attack while behind bars.

McCarthy appeared in court via video link wearing a red jumper and only spoke to confirm his name.

He reacted by placing his head in his hands and wiping his brow throughout certain parts of the sentencing.

He was handed a life sentence for the attack on Fowkes with a minimum term of 18 years.

Fowkes and McCarthy are both in the close supervision centre F wing of HMP Whitehall which homes ten of the institution's most "difficult and disruptive" offenders.

The prison is home to 450 inmates a third of whom are serving life sentences.

Fowkes is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years for the attempted murder of Ian Huntley.

Huntley was convicted of the murders of 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambs., in 2002.

He is serving two life sentences with a minimum of 40 years.

A sentencing hearing at Hull Crown Court in 2011 heard how Fowkes attacked Huntley in the healthcare unit at Frankland Prison, leaving him with gaping wound.

It was Huntley's "good fortune" that the 7in wound Fowkes inflicted with a razor melted on to a piece of plastic cutlery missed vital parts of his anatomy.

Fowkes was then transferred to Full Sutton Prison, near York, where he barricaded himself into a cell with paedophile and child-killer Colin Hatch.

He killed Hatch anyway by strangling him with a ligature while prison officers waited outside for fear he would kill his prisoner if they entered.