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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Prison failings 'led to murder'
Shahid Aziz
Shahid Aziz was attacked just minutes after first meeting McCann
A prisoner who was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate by slashing his throat should not have been sharing a cell with him, an inquest has found.

Peter McCann, 28, murdered Shahid Aziz, 30, less than 30 minutes after they were locked up together at Armley jail, Leeds, on 2 April 2004.

An inquest jury ruled a risk assessment carried out on McCann was "inadequate in identifying risk".

The jail said measures had been put in place to prevent similar incidents.

McCann was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to the murder at Bradford Crown Court in July 2004.

None of the witnesses employed by the prison service, including the governor at the time of the murder, Ian Blakeman, gave us a clear apology in open court
Parveen Khan, Shahid Aziz's widow

The inquest, at Leeds Coroner's Court, identified failings in the way information was not passed on from a probation officer who phoned the prison to voice her concerns about McCann.

A narrative verdict read: "If the information from the probation officer had been passed to the wing, Peter McCann would not have been moved, a search would have been carried out [and it would have] enabled a thorough cell-sharing risk assessment to be carried out on Peter McCann.

"These failings contributed to Shahid Aziz's death."

After the inquest, prison governor Rob Kellett said: "Firstly, I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to the family of Shahid for the their tragic loss.

"I welcome the jury's findings that no staff were involved in the murder of Mr Aziz, nor did any staff conspire to place Mr Aziz in a situation that would cause him harm.

"With regards to the jury's findings concerning elements of policy and practice at Leeds prison, I am determined to ensure that any further elements of learning from this incident are responded to."

Shahid Aziz's widow Parveen Khan
Mr Aziz's widow said the jail failed to provide a "safe environment"

He said many of the recommendations in a prisons' ombudsman's report had already been implemented.

The inquest was told McCann had claimed he acted in self-defence when Aziz, a married father-of-two, came at him with a knife. Aziz's family disputed his version of events.

'Notable silence'

The hearing was told Aziz suffered 13 separate injuries including a broken jaw, ligature marks around the neck and lacerations to the top of the head.

After the inquest Aziz's widow, Parveen Khan, said: "While the prison may not have had a direct hand in his murder, they were responsible for providing a safe environment for Shahid to serve his time and they failed.

"The inquest gave the prison service the opportunity to put that right, yet none of the witnesses employed by the prison service, including the governor at the time of the murder, Ian Blakeman, gave us a clear apology in open court for the fact that Shahid was brutally killed in the prison.

"This notable silence has distressed us."


SEE ALSO
Jail cell killer attends inquest
30 Apr 07 |  West Yorkshire
Cell killer was deemed 'low risk'
17 Apr 07 |  West Yorkshire
Family fears are focus of inquest
16 Apr 07 |  West Yorkshire
Man is arrested over jail death
02 Apr 04 |  West Yorkshire

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