Violent Crime

Prison Guard Scarred for Life after Being Slashed Across Face by Inmate Caught on Camera

A prison guard has been left scarred for life after an armed robber slashed him across the face with a razor blade.

The horrific attack was caught on camera as inmate Thomas Stevenson calmly and randomly flicked the weapon into officer Stuart Sproull’s face.

Mr Sproull was trying to help Stevenson when the savage assault unfolded by opening a door for Stevenson.

Union bosses described the unprovoked attack at Shotts prison, Scotland, as “shocking”, the Daily Record reported .

They also criticized doctors at the State Hospital at Carstairs after it emerged ­Stevenson had been deemed fit for release from maximum ­security healthcare weeks ­earlier.

Footage shows Stevenson, 38, of Ardrossan, Ayrshire, ­jogging away after the attack.

He appears to toss the razor aside – but then goes back ­seconds later near to where he attacked Stuart.

Other staff members can be seen ordering Stevenson to the ground before restraining him as the jail goes into lockdown.

Stevenson, now back at Carstairs, appeared from ­custody at Hamilton Sheriff Court earlier this month and pleaded guilty to striking ­Stuart in the face with a blade in June last year.

Stevenson, serving a six-year sentence for assault and ­robbery in Ayrshire, had only been returned to Shotts from Carstairs eight weeks before the attack.

Stevenson was on anti-­psychotic medication at the time he was transferred back.

A cannabis user since his teens, he has been held in various psychiatric units across Ayrshire in the past. He approached Stuart at around 8am and threw what appeared to be a punch.

It soon became clear the prison officer had been slashed and was bleeding heavily.

Stuart suffered an 8cm cut from his mouth up to his left cheek and will be left with ­permanent disfigurement.

Hamilton­ ­Sheriff Court heard there was “no ­background and no history between the prison officer and Stevenson”.

Sheriff Ray Small granted an interim compulsion order meaning Stevenson will remain at the State Hospital for at least 12 weeks. He is due back in court in October.

Andy Hogg, assistant ­general secretary of Prison Officers Association Scotland (POAS), said: “This was a shocking and unprovoked attack on Officer Sproull ­delivered by someone whose actions would suggest he should never have been released from the State ­Hospital in the first instance.

“We have considerable ­concerns around the process in place for managing severe mental health issues that sees the return of people such as prisoner Stevenson to ­mainstream prisons – ­presumably because they are deemed to no longer require treatment or are perhaps ­considered untreatable.

“This raises a fundamental question of whether direct transfer between the two facilities is appropriate or whether there should be a form of halfway house where ­medical ­professionals can assess suitability to return to prison establishments over a longer period of time.

“Rather than leave officers subject to random and unprovoked attacks from ­prisoners who clearly should be held in secure healthcare facilities.

“It’s interesting to note the State Hospital have closed a ward due to lack of patient through-put, recognizing that not every prisoner with mental health issues would require treatment in secure facilities.

“Given the scale of mental health issues in prisons is well documented, perhaps making use of an available ward in the State Hospital, as a halfway house under the control of medical professionals, could provide an answer to ­alleviating some of the mental health issues in prisons.”

A State Hospital ­spokeswoman said they were unable to comment on ­individual patients.

She said transfers involved ­discussions with health ­services, local authorities, police and the prison service.

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She added: “A patient would be ­considered for transfer from the State ­Hospital once his mental health had improved and his behavior settled for a ­prolonged period.

“During a patient’s stay in the State Hospital there is an ongoing process of formal risk assessment and management.

“This includes an assessment of the appropriate level of security for a patient’s care.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: “Given the nature of their work, prison staff can work with dangerous and difficult individuals and on rare occasions assaults on staff unfortunately do occur.

“We recognize the ­importance of providing a safe environment for our staff.

“It is our policy that all assaults on staff are reported to the appropriate authorities.”

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