'Essex Boys' killer sues over Whitemoor Prison attack

Michael Steele Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Michael Steele was jailed for life for killing three drug dealers in a Range Rover in Rettendon in 1995

A triple killer battered unconscious in jail is suing the Ministry of Justice for failing to protect him.

Michael Steele, one of the so-called "Essex Boys" killers jailed in 1998, was beaten with a metal pot in a row over the use of a telephone in 2010.

Steele, 73, was left with damaged teeth and a fractured eye socket at HMP Whitemoor, near Peterborough.

He is suing the government, which argued the case would not succeed, for £100,000.

But at Central London County Court, District Judge Ian Avent said the claim would be allowed to go ahead to a full hearing.

Inspired movie

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Steele was jailed for life for the 1996 gangland killings, which became known as the Rettendon Range Rover Murders.

The case inspired the 2000 movie Essex Boys, starring Sean Bean.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The attack took place in the Cambridgeshire prison

The central London hearing was told how Steele had argued with a Muslim prisoner - referred to only as Miller - in January 2010, after being accused of jumping the queue to use a telephone.

The following day he was in a kitchen cooking his dinner when he was hit on the head from behind with what is believed to have been a metal pot, the court was told.

'Violent threat'

In his claim, Steele said he was told by senior staff that Muslim "gangs" in the prison are "impossible to control or discipline" because of their numbers.

He claimed prison bosses should have done more to protect him from the attack.

Judge Avent told the hearing: "Mr Steele's claim is predicated on the basis that Muslim prisoners were a violent threat and that the prison was the most volatile of the high security dispersal prisons."

The Ministry of Justice has argued the claim had no chance of succeeding.

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