'Essex boys' murderer wins dental pain payout

A man serving a life sentence for the "Essex Boys" gangland murders has won £44,500 damages from the Home Office for negligent dental care.

Michael Steele was jailed for the triple murder of Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe in 1998.

Last year he was awarded £66,400 in damages.

Appeal Court judges on Friday rejected the Home Office's appeal against negligence findings, but reduced Steele's payout to £44,500.

Steele and Jack Whomes were both convicted after the three victims were shot dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track in December 1995 in a gangland dispute over drugs.

Image caption Steele was jailed in 1998 for the murders of three men

The Appeal Court heard his Steele's fillings fell out at Belmarsh Prison soon after he was given his three life sentences.

Since then, while being moved between high security prisons, Steele has suffered "persistent severe pain".

Judge Edward Bailey last year ruled the Home Office had been negligent in failing to give him the dental treatment he needed and awarded him £66,400 damages, including about £250 for every week of toothache he endured.

Lady Justice Smith, sitting in the appeal court, said it was "a bad case involving persistent severe pain over nearly four years, together with more moderate pain for two years and some significant deterioration in the general condition of his teeth".

She reduced his original damages to £25,000 and with interest and £16,000 for Steele's "pecuniary loss", the total payout comes to £44,500.

Steele represented himself after his legal aid was withdrawn.

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