Harold Wood prison officer Lorraine Barwell dies after court assault

A serco van. Picture: PA Steve Parsons

A serco van. Picture: PA Steve Parsons - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A Serco prison custody officer attacked inside Blackfriars Crown Court on Monday has died.

Police have this morning confirmed the death of Lorraine Barwell, 54, of Harold Wood, who had been on life support since she was assaulted on Monday.

She was attacked in the court while working with other team members preparing to escort a prisoner to a jail van in the court yard.

She was treated at the scene before being taken to the Royal London hospital by London’s air ambulance.

Humphrey Burke, 22, of no fixed abode, appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday charged with grievous bodily harm.

Justice secretary Michael Gove said: “I was shocked to hear of the tragic death of Lorraine Barwell. No words can express the devastating effect this will have on her family and friends and my deepest sympathies are with them at this difficult time.

“Lorraine Barwell was a courageous and dedicated prisoner custody officer who delivered a vital public service for more than a decade. She, like thousands of prison officers across the country, worked hard in challenging circumstances to keep the public safe.”

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He added the Ministry of Justice will assist police in their investigation.

Rupert Soames, Serco chief executive, said the company was “appalled and saddened” by the “dreadful” news.

He said: “Our hearts go out to her family and many friends. They are in our thoughts. We will do everything we can to support them at this very difficult time.

“Lorraine was a brave and experienced officer who was a popular and highly respected member of our team, and had worked for Serco for over ten years. She will be sorely missed by everyone who worked with her.”

Oscar Garcia-Villaverde, a close colleague of Lorraine, said: “Everyone who worked with Lorraine, who was affectionately known as Rocky, is absolutely devastated by what has happened. Lorraine was really well-liked and she had many friends here; we will all miss her dreadfully. Our thoughts are with her family.”

Mr Burke was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on July 15.

Did you know Lorraine? Contact Sam on 020 8477 3810 or sam.gelder@archant.co.uk.