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Prison officers cleared of assaulting inmate; jury finds them not guilty after hearing of 'bad' atmosphere in strangeways.

Byline: ANDREW BARDSLEY andrew.bardsley@trinitymirror.com @@ABARDSLEYMEN

TWO Strangeways prison officers have been cleared of assaulting a prisoner who tried to throw a bucket of human waste at them.

There were emotional scenes in court as unanimous not guilty verdicts were delivered by the jury foreman after an hour of deliberations following a week-long Manchester Crown Court trial.

Thomas Woodhulme, 27, broke down in the dock as he was cleared. William Henderson, 34, was also visibly emotional.

The pair, who were both supported by their families in a packed public gallery, were both found not guilty of causing actual bodily harm to HM Prison Manchester inmate Nigel Halfacre.

Halfacre, an inmate on B wing, told jurors he was paid PS100-worth of the drug Spice by another inmate to do a 'potting', which involved throwing a bucket of urine and faeces at prison staff.

Officers Henderson and Woodhulme were accused of assaulting him shortly after they dragged him back to his cell, when he refused to put the bucket down.

The scene was chaos were control The jury also heard that Halfacre, under the influence of Spice at the time of the incident in March last year, had been convicted for the same offence before.

He was moved to Manchester from HMP Altcourse, in Merseyside, after being jailed for 16 weeks for 'potting' a female officer there.

Prosecutors said that a senior prison officer was 'shocked by what she saw the defendants do.'.

on B wing and dogs needed to it ' But Mr Henderson, from Mossley, Tameside, who served as a submariner in the Royal Navy for eight years, and Mr Woodhulme, a former professional rugby player, said their actions in getting Halfacre to hi cell were justified - and they denied assaulting him.

Mr Henderson, a married dad-ofone, told the jury that he and Mr Woodhulme decided to move Halfacre to his cell to prevent the incident from becoming a 'spectacle' for other prisoners. He denied holding down Halfacre for him to be attacked and was adamant that his actions were necessary.

The court also heard from Mr Woodhulme, from Widnes. Despite being a more inexperienced officer, he was entrusted to work on the segregation unit after impressing bosses, one of whom said they could 'trust him completely'.

He told how the atmosphere on the wing was 'bad' in the run-up to the incident, as prisoners had been stuck in their cells more often due to staffing issues. The court heard that Mr Woodhulme said he thought 'management could have done more to alleviate this problem. He said he raised concerns with bosses earlier.

Jurors heard how Mr Woodhulme said other officers looked 'scared' on the day of the incident, describing the scene on B wing as 'chaos' and that dogs had to be used to control it.

He admitted kicking the back of Halfacre's legs to force him to the ground, but said he felt 'justified' in doing so as he had refused to put the bucket down.

staff. and were the senior 'shocked the said The scene on B wing was chaos and dogs were needed to control it

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Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 17, 2018
Words:526
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