Prison boss could face court


Recorder Shamim QureshiA judge has threatened to haul a prison governor up for contempt of court – after warders twice failed to get a prisoner to his court hearing.

Furious Wolverhampton Crown Court recorder Recorder Shamim Qureshi, pictured, is to write to the Prison Service – and said he may demand the Home Office foot the bill for the protracted court hearing.

His comments came after prisoner John Petit was not brought to court for sentencing following a previous hearing where he was convicted of assault.

He is being held at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool.

His family, solicitors and court officials were assembled for yesterday’s hearing, at which the judge apologised for the blunder and pledged to take action.

It emerged there had been a number of hearings in the case, none of which were Petit attended.

The 19-year-old was convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm, in his absence, at Stafford Crown Court in February.

Mr Qureshi yesterday said: “The problem lies with the prison system. I have not come across a case like this since the mid-80s when the problem was more widespread. This is an isolated incident.

“I am writing to the prison governor asking him to show why I should not hold him in contempt. It is not just today and yesterday – the defendant has never been brought before the court. He has been in custody for a few months and there have been four or five hearings.”

Pettit, of Hagley Park Road, Rugeley, is facing at least 12 months’ detention for beating up a schoolboy fishing at a brook near Cannock in September 2006.

He was due to appear at court yesterday after he failed to show up on Thursday. Mr Qureshi had said he would not sentence Pettit without him being there.

Pettit had denied the assault but failed to turn up for the trial and the case was heard in his absence. A warrant was issued but it now appears the prison service may have been at fault for his non-appearance.

The case has been adjourned till June 20.

HMP Altcourse was today unavailable for comment.


Corrections officers charged with gouging inmate’s eye

PUNTA GORDA — A southwest Florida corrections officer was released from jail Friday after he was arrested for gouging an inmate’s eye, police said.

William Wilson, 25, was fired Thursday and arrested on aggravated battery charges, following an investigation into the May 21 incident at the Charlotte Correctional Institution.

The unnamed inmate was being transferred out of his cell by a group of officers when Wilson intentionally gouged the inmate’s right eye with his hand, according to a Florida Department of Corrections report. The eyeball later had to be removed by medical staff.

The inmate was being transferred for inpatient mental-health treatment.

Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said it’s unclear if Wilson was provoked. Still, she called Wilson a “brutal employee” and said that kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. He had been with the department since 2006.

Wilson was released on $100,000 bond. A jail official did not know if he had an attorney.