Wikinews obtains new details on UK prisoner's murder

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wikinews has obtained new details from police investigating the murder of a convicted sex offender in his prison cell. 44-year-old Robert Coello was, apparently, kicked to death in his cell at Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Grendon, Buckinghamshire, England.

File photo of HMP Grendon.
Image: Andy Gryce.

Prison staff found Coello lying in a pool of blood on the first of this month; he was rushed to hospital, but died later that day. He was serving a minimum sentence of seven years for sixteen sex offences against a child, including four rapes. The death is thought to be the first in the history of Grendon, a prison that was set up in 1962 as a therapeutic experiment. It is generally held to be one of Britain's safest, responsible for holding and treating up to 235 inmates with antisocial personality disorders. Prisoners at the facility must show a "genuine desire" to change their ways.

Immediately after the murder, concern was raised that budget cuts may have played a factor. Colin Moses, chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, was quoted as saying "...staff there [Grendon] are concerned about the kind of people who are now being put into Grendon. They are taking a much more unsuitable kind of prisoner." Calling for an investigation, he said; "[w]e don't want any kind of shoddy cover-up. We want to know what effect these massive budget cuts will have so we do not have a similar tragedy again."

The prison service denied any problems at the time, stating "[t]here has been no change to the type of prisoner held there in recent months, and no change to the vetting process." Wikinews tried to identify if two men arrested within days of the attack – a 25-year-old for murder and a 28-year-old for assisting an offender – arrived at the prison recently, and if they remained there; Thames Valley Police refused to comment, referring enquiries to the UK's Ministry of Justice.

Police also said they could not release the names, or convictions, of the men arrested. Spokesman Pierre du Bois, citing Association of Chief Police Officer (ACPO) guidelines, said: "Thames Valley Police does not release information which could confirm the identity of a suspect, unless that person is an adult and has been charged with an offence." However, the police did confirm that the suspects were inmates and told Wikinews they had been released on bail until September 13, until which time they remain in the prison system; the Crown Prosecution Service has yet to press charges.

Cquote1.svg ...our enquiries continue and both the subjects are in prison after all, which makes things easier Cquote2.svg

—Thames Valley Police spokesman speaking to Wikinews

The Telegraph reports it is believed one of the men arrested for murder is serving a sentence for a prior murder conviction.

A post-mortem has been performed, Wikinews has learned, but the police are not commenting on the results pending the written report from the Home Office pathologist who conducted it. Whilst the method by which the suspects gained access to the deceased's cell remains under investigation, police are not investigating if prison officers assisted inmates in gaining access to Mr Coello, stating that "[t]he authorities at HMP Grendon are co-operating fully with our investigation." An attempt to identify what activities were occurring in the prison at the time was referred to the Ministry of Justice.

In response to further enquiries, du Bois said today, "[w]e just don't know," when police will receive the written post mortem report from the pathologist, adding, "[i]n the meantime our enquiries continue and both the subjects are in prison after all, which makes things easier."


Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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