Whitemoor prison officer tells jurors how he fought off inmates in alleged terror attack
- Credit: Archant
A prison officer has described how he fended off repeated stabbing blows to the head after being floored in an alleged terror attack.
Neil Trundle was left covered in blood from multiple cuts after convicted terrorist Brusthom Ziamani, 25, and fellow inmate Baz Hockton, 26, allegedly assaulted him with makeshift weapons at Whitemoor jail in Cambridgeshire.
Jurors at the Old Bailey have heard two female members of staff were also injured by Ziamani when they tried to intervene in the onslaught on Mr Trundle on the morning of January 9.
Ziamani, who has a previous conviction for plotting an attack on a soldier, and Hockton are on trial accused of attempted murder.
The prosecution has alleged the defendants launched the attack for a terrorist purpose.
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Giving evidence on Wednesday, Mr Trundle said he had never had any problems with Ziamani before.
He said: “There had been no confrontation or cross words, no indication that there was going to be any issues between us.”
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When Ziamani asked him if he could replace a broken spoon, Mr Trundle went to unlock a store cupboard, followed by the defendants.
Mr Trundle said: “I could see one in my peripheral view to the side as I unlocked the door.
“Before I knew it I was on the floor on my back. I wasn’t sure how I ended up on the floor. I did not know what position I was in but I was on the floor and I was being attacked.”
Mr Trundle, who has been a prison officer for more than 14 years, said he raised his arms to protect his face and called for help.
“I felt pressure on my body as if people were lying on my body. I could feel stabs, especially to my head at this precise moment. I could still feel little bits of stinging.
“I did not know who was on me or how many was on me but I did notice when that person or persons left. I noticed when they came back again and attacked me a second time.
“I did not see any weapons. I could feel blows coming down on me.
“During the attack I was laying on my back and I was trying to kick out. The kicking out made it more difficult for them.”
He added: “I did not realise how bad the damage was to myself until I went to the hospital and looked in the mirror.”
Describing the attack, Mr Trundle said: “They were focusing on my head, my neck, all vital organs. They had ample opportunity to stab me in the leg or kick me in the leg but they just carried on with the top half.”
The officer said he did not hear the attackers saying anything, adding: “I was too busy trying to survive.”
He told jurors he had suffered multiple cuts to his chest, neck, shoulder and arms and still bore scars from what happened.
Beforehand, he had noticed that Ziamani slept under his bed and Hockton copied the “abnormal” behaviour.
He added: “Mr Hockton follows in the footsteps of Mr Ziamani. Exercise yard, always together in each other’s pockets for a couple of months leading up to this.”
Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the incident, which was briefly interrupted when two female staff members attempted to intervene and were assaulted by Ziamani.
Under cross-examination, Mr Trundle was asked if there was any anti-Muslim feeling at Whitemoor in the wake of a London Bridge attack by one of its former inmates, Usman Khan, who killed two Cambridge students.
The witness replied: “There would be a lot of emotion for staff who knew (the students) killed on that day.
“I did not really know who the students were. It’s a sad thing that happened and is one individual who has done that. It’s as simple as that.”
Mr Trundle denied the suggestion that he “had it in” for Hockton or ever asked him why he was “wearing a dress”.
Prison officer Georgina Ibbotson told jurors she feared for her life when “hyped up” Ziamani came at her.
Ms Ibbotson said she never had any trouble with him before, adding that he spent a lot of time with Hockton “one to one”.
Earlier on January 9, Ms Ibbotson said Ziamani had also asked her to fetch a spoon from the store cupboard which gave her a “gut feeling”.
She said: “It just made me feel uncomfortable - it made me feel like it was something I did not want to do.”
Later when she heard the alarm, she said: “I saw two men standing in front of me - Mr Ziamani and Mr Hockton both holding weapons.
“I could just see they had something in their hands and were holding it with clenched fists.
“They were really hyped up and full of adrenalin, quite intimidating.
“I put my hands out and just said ‘whoa’. Mr Ziamani tried to step forward so I put my hands to my belt.
“Mr Ziamani punched me in the face. It was as hard as he could. It was really like a big shock, mostly. I fell to my knees.”
When she got up, she noticed nurse Jayne Cowles on the floor “looking shocked”.
Ms Ibbotson said she then headed towards the store cupboard, planning to lock herself in.
She said: “I could feel the blood dripping down my face. I did not know how bad my injuries were. I feared for my life.”
Ziamani and Hockton have denied the attempted murder of Mr Trundle.
They are also accused of an alternative charge of wounding with intent, which Hockton has admitted.
Ziamani has admitted assaulting Ms Ibbotson and Ms Cowles.