A PRISONER who repeatedly slashed a fellow inmate with a razor blade has been given a life sentence with an effective minimum five year jail term.

A judge at Teesside Crown Court said Neil Wilson had left the victim with “dreadful” injuries after slashing him up to ten times during the incident in Holme House prison, near Stockton.

The sentence led to a warning from the Prisoner Officers Association which claimed assaults on both staff and inmates were rising all the time as a result of a drive by the prison authorities to make efficiency savings.

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Holme House, which is regarded as a “local” prison, taking both permanent and remand prisoners from across Cleveland, County Durham and North Yorkshire, has been the scene of a number of disturbances involving prisoners over the past several years.

Judge Howard Crowson labelled 26-year-old Wilson as a “very dangerous man” and said he would be jailed for life and only able to apply for parole after five years and four months served.

Wilson had already served jail terms of six years, for wounding, and two years for taking a prisoner hostage and assaulting him, prior to his latest attack on January 31 last year.

The court was told that the complainant had returned to his cell after association – a break when prisoners are allowed to mix with each other – to find the complainant inside.

After closing the door behind him he punched him in the face, fracturing his jaw in two places.

Wilson then calmly smoked a cigarette before picking up a razor blade and slashing the “somewhat vulnerable” prisoner with it.

He then disposed of the razor blade by flushing it down a toilet, which Judge Crowson said was an effort to conceal his offending.

Wilson, of no fixed address, admitted wounding with intent. His barrister Jim Withyman spoke of his troubled past, but admitted there was very little mitigation he could put forward.

The defendant had been assessed as dangerous by a doctor and was already behind bars for the public protection.

Judge Crowson said Wilson, who appeared in the dock in handcuffs, had carried out a sustained attack on a defenceless man.

Giving him a life sentence, he said he would not be able to apply for release for at least five years, four months and he would only be freed if the Parole Board was satisfied he was no longer a danger to the public.

Terry Fullerton, who represents the region on the Prison Officers Association national executive committee, said the attack by Wilson was “not an isolated incident”.

He said: “It's just another day in the prison service sadly. Assaults on staff and on other prisoners are rising all the time.

“There is a current drive for efficiency savings and it's quite easy to put two and two together and make four when asking if these things are linked.”