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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 July 2005, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
Damien Barrett
Damien Barrett

Damien is 18 years old and currently serving 6 years for 3 counts of grievous bodily harm with intent.

He first got into violence at school when he became involved in fights due to being bullied for having ginger hair and freckles.

"I used to always get into fights which started off when I was younger being bullied and then just sticking up for myself and fighting, and then getting a name for yourself so more people want to fight you and it's just an never ending circle, because you've got a name people want to fight you."

This gave him a reputation "as being quite a tough guy, which isn't a nice reputation to have. It helps in some ways because some people are scared of you and won't start on you or anything, but then it's bad in the other sense that people will start on you for it."

In 2004 he stabbed two people at a wedding reception after a petty argument. This was while he was on bail for a previous vicious attack. Then, he nearly killed a man who tried to run off without paying for a twenty pound deal of cannabis.

"Having all my friends about me I couldn't just let him run off with it. It wouldn't have done me any favours. I mean when you're a drug dealer you have to have a bit of a reputation otherwise people will take the piss. I mean you've got... people have got know that you ain't going to take any shit like that."

His victim has been left permanently brain-damaged and now requires 24-hour care.

He says he drifted into drug dealing and violence because he couldn't find "a stable job."

"I tried factory work and working for furniture companies and little bits and bobs but none of it was a stable job. It weren't something I was going to be doing long-term┐ it was just trying to find something."

He says it was easier to earn money dealing drugs.

"It was a very easy way to earn money. I mean I used to go out, have a good time with my mates, sell them puff and make a living at the same time as partying. It's a very easy thing to get in to. You don't have to pay tax or nothing┐ work what hours you please."

BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch a clip from Damien Barrett's interview with Panorama



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