A court security firm awaits sentencing over health and safety failings relating to the death of a custody officer who was attacked by a mentally-ill prisoner. 

Lorraine Barwell, a 54-year-old from Harold Wood, was attacked by Humphrey Burke, 29, as she tried to escort him from Blackfriars Crown Court in June 2015.

She was kicked twice, once in the body and once in the head, and died from brain injuries caused by the second blow. 

Ms Barwell’s employer Serco, which is contracted by the Ministry of Justice to provide security services in courts, pleaded guilty to one count of failure to discharge general health, safety and welfare duty from January 2014 to March 2017. 

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During that time there were attacks on two employees – Ms Barwell and another custody officer Bernadette Cawley, who survived after being strangled at Woolwich Crown Court in June 2016. 

After a four day Newton hearing at Southwark Crown Court last week, a judge retired to consider how to sentence Serco.

Burke admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility and was handed an indefinite hospital order at the Old Bailey in January 2022. 

In Ms Barwell’s case, prosecutor Gordon Menzies previously said she was not aware of Burke’s previous violent outbursts despite Serco having access to this information.

The sentencing is expected to take place after Easter.