Prison guards attacked by lifer who murdered city man

Ezra Taylor.
Ezra Taylor.
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A KILLER jailed for at least 23 years will still have to serve an extra three-year sentence for attacking prison officers after appeal court judges ruled it would be ‘unacceptable’ for him to go unpunished.

Ezra Taylor, aged 33, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 23 years in 2004 for his part in the drive-by shooting of Gerald Smith outside the Donkeyman’s club on Spital Hill in December 2002.

Mr Smith, a 42-year-old dad-of-seven from Wincobank, was blasted in the head and neck as he stood in the doorway of the club. The original Sheffield trial heard he was simply ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’.

Taylor was one of nine men convicted of the murder, carried out after some of the group were robbed in a takeaway shop on the Wicker hours earlier.

The killers, from St Anns in Nottingham, returned to Sheffield from their home city intent on revenge. They were jailed despite no-one admitting who had fired the fatal shots - although Taylor’s co-accused Leon Bryan later confessed to pulling the trigger.

Taylor was handed a three-year jail term in January last year for attacking prison officers at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire. The judge ordered the sentence to run consecutively to his minimum term for the murder - meaning he will only begin to serve the extra years in 2027.

But at London’s Appeal Court, his barristers argued the sentence was ‘unlawful’ because it could see him kept in jail after the Parole Board has decided it is safe to release him.

He admitted two counts of assault occasioning ABH and three of common assault after he punched officers at HMP Whitemoor. The court heard he became agitated and threatened to kill the officers as they tried to return him to his cell when he refused to go.

He knocked one officer out and chipped his tooth before breaking the lower jaw of a female prison worker and injuring three other officers.

Joel Bennathan QC, representing Taylor, claimed previous court cases had set a precedent that life prisoners should not be given consecutive sentences for crimes committed behind bars.

He said the new sentence would make Taylor more uncertain as to when he’ll be released.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Moses said there was no reason to stop judges imposing consecutive determinate sentences on lifers if they offend again in jail.

The judge added: “To go unpunished for what he did to those officers is not acceptable.”