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Judge: 'Vile practice of potting is common currency' at Doncaster's prisons

HMP Lindholme
HMP Lindholme
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Throwing excrement over officers to pay off debts has become a 'common currency' in prison, a judge has said, after it was revealed that almost half of attacks on staff at a Doncaster prison involved the use of human waste.

That was the conclusion reached by Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, after two cases were brought before him on Wednesday, May 30, in which two inmates admitted to throwing feaces over prison officers in order to pay off debts they had accrued while serving time at HMP Lindholme and HMP Moorland.

Sheffield Crown Court was told how in the incident involving HMP Lindholme prisoner, Simon Finlay, 37, he smeared faeces across the face of an officer on October 31 last year.

Prosecutor, David Wain, said that far from it being an isolated incident, of the 70 attacks on prison officers carried out at HMP Lindholme over the last four months, 30 of them had involved the use of urine and or faeces - the prison term for which is 'potting'.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Finlay's victim explained how she had only started work at the prison a few months prior to the incident, which she described as having a 'considerable impact' on her.

"It has changed me forever," said the woman, adding: "I had to be on medication for three months, I was tested for Hepatitis B and am awaiting the results of a HIV test."

Finlay, of HMP Lindholme, pleaded guilty to administering a noxious substance at an earlier hearing.

Defending, David Eager, told the court that Finlay, who was in prison serving a sentence for burglary and assault, carried out the offence in order to pay off a prison debt.

Adam Birkby, defending prisoner, Adam Blackburn, 32, told the court that he too had only thrown a bucket of urine and faeces over a prison guard at HMP Moorland on July 18 last year in order to pay off a debt.

Mr Birkby said: "He became addicted to the drug Spice while in prison. He became in debt, and was told to either do their bidding and throw the bucket over the prison officer or get stabbed. They put a blade to his throat."

Blackburn's victim spoke of the effect the potting attack had on him, through a victim impact statement read out in court.

He said: "I am a prison officer and during the course of my job there is always the threat of a bonk on the head.

"The assault is above anything that can be deemed as reasonable."

Blackburn, who was in the middle of serving a sentence for burglary when he committed the offence, admitted to administering a noxious substance at an earlier hearing.

Judge Richardson QC adjourned both sentencing hearings until Monday, June 4, in order to be able to sentence both men together for the two separate incidents.

He said: "This vile practice seems to be becoming a common currency at prisons and something needs to be done about it. Prison officers must receive the protection of the courts."

Judge Richardson said this was the fifth such case that had been brought before him since he started sitting at Sheffield Crown Court a few weeks ago.