Pentonville Prison death trial: Guards 'do inmates favours'

HMP Pentonville sign Image copyright Getty Images

Officers at a London jail regularly do "favours" for prisoners, the widow of a fatally-stabbed inmate told a court.

Melissa Modeste told the Old Bailey staff at HMP Pentonville would be happy to smuggle in contraband for inmates.

She was giving evidence at the trial of three inmates accused of murdering her husband Jamal Mahmoud, 21.

Mahmoud was killed in a battle over illicit phones and a knife in the jail, the court was told. The accused men all deny his murder.

Ms Modeste told the court the staff would "often let prisoners out", explaining that hours before he died her husband told her he could "get let out" of his cell to settle a dispute with a rival faction.

"I know what the guards are like there", she said.

"They let people out, they do favours like bring stuff in."

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Jamal Mahmoud was attacked with a "hunting-style knife", according to BBC sources

Mahmoud was stabbed on 18 October 2016, in an area of the jail not covered by CCTV, the jury has heard.

The trial was told the new father, was allegedly killed by three fellow inmates in a battle to control the wing's "lucrative" contraband route.

Robert Butler, 31, Basana Kimbembi, 35, and Joshua Ratner, 27, deny murder as well as wounding Mr Mahmoud's associate Mohammed Ali, with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.

The location of the victim's cell on the fifth floor of G Wing occupied a prime position, giving him power over the influx of contraband, jurors heard.

Before his death, he was said to be angry about other inmates bringing in parcels without "cutting him in" on the deal.

Ms Modeste said she brought one of Mahmoud's friends in on a three-way call on the morning of his death to help "calm him down".

Questioning Ms Modeste, Michael Holland QC, defending Kimbembi, suggested: "As far as parcels were concerned, it was his operation. It was the fact they were bringing parcels in without his permission."

Image copyright PA
Image caption HMP Pentonville currently holds more than 1,200 adults

The jail, from where two inmates have escaped in the last year, has been criticised by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for being overcrowded, run-down and violent.

The trial continues.

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