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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 20:14 GMT
Warders' 1m trauma compensation
Four of the six wardens outside the court
The warders saw a scene of 'absolute horror'
Six prison officers have received a compensation payout of more than 1m for witnessing the aftermath of a horrific killing in a cell.

Prisoner Jason Ricketts killed his cellmate in Cardiff prison in 2000.

Ricketts strangled Colin Bloomfield and mutilated his body. He was sent to a secure psychiatric hospital without time limit following the attack.

Cardiff County Court heard the six men suffered "severe psychological injuries" from the killing.

The officers' solicitor, Frank Rogers, said the men "had been through hell". Three of them still work at Cardiff prison but have limited prisoner contact.

They six men affected are Darren Godbear, 44, Nigel Thomas, 47, Michael Wakeham, 46, Gerald Williams, 58, Paul Evans, 38, and Alan Hunt, 42.

One of them was obliged to attempt resuscitation on Bloomfield despite his obvious death
Nigel Cooksley QC

Wednesday's settlement is for both damages and costs. The exact amount is subject to a confidentiality clause.

Mr Rogers called for a public inquiry into the case and the wider issue of how mentally-ill prisoners are dealt with in the prison service.

The Home Office agreed to the compensation after a hearing with High Court judge Mr Justice Field.

Nigel Cooksley QC, representing the officers, told the court: "On the night of the killing warder Nigel Thomas attended Ricketts' cell. When he saw Bloomfield he called for assistance and the five others came.

Colin Bloomfield
A spoon with an embedded razor blade was used on Colin Bloomfield

"They did not know what they were going to see and went in tentatively with their staves drawn. What they saw caused them all psychological injuries."

Ricketts told the officers he had attacked Bloomfield after "a man in white in the corner of the room told him to do it," Mr Cooksley said.

"One of them was obliged to attempt resuscitation on Bloomfield despite his obvious death."

'Absolute horror'

The officers claimed Ricketts should never have been in prison because of his severe psychiatric illness, nor should he have shared a cell.

One said: "What faced us was a scene of absolute horror. I have seen nothing like this before in my life.

"There was blood everywhere. The floor, walls and bed were literally dripping with blood."

Cardiff prison
Ricketts killed his victim in a cell at Cardiff Prison
Mr Rogers said all the men had suffered horrifically.

"Even those still working for the service have not recovered and it is unlikely they will recover.

"Many of them still have ongoing needs for serious psychological difficulties," he said.

"What happened to them has changed their lives forever. The six years it has taken for this to be resolved has seriously exacerbated their mental conditions.

"Even the Home Office barrister admitted it was disgraceful the length of time it took to come to court. Every delay has made it worse."

Cell bunk

In 2001, Newport Crown Court heard how convicted burglar Ricketts, from Caerphilly, who was 29 at the time, had crafted a plastic spoon with a razor blade embedded in it and sharpened the handle of a toothbrush especially for the killing.

Colin Bloomfield, 35, from Newport was found lying covered in blood on the lower bunk of the cell in April 2000.

Ricketts pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming he had been directed by voices to carry out the attack. He was sent to Ashworth secure psychiatric unit for an unlimited time.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear the warders' solicitor talk about the case



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