Prisoner who kicked guard causing fatal haemorrhage sent to Broadmoor

Lorraine Barwell was a custody officer working for Serco

Lorraine Barwell was a custody officer working for Serco - Credit: Archant

A prisoner who kicked a custody officer and caused the brain haemorrhage that led to her death, has been detained at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital indefinitely.

Humphrey Burke

Humphrey Burke - Credit: Archant

Custody officer Lorraine Barwell died after she was kicked in the head by Humphrey Burke as she helped to escort him from Blackfriars Crown Court, where he had appeared to be sentenced for attempted robbery, criminal damage and arson.

Burke, 23, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was found unfit to stand trial after being charged with murdering Ms Barwell, 54, of Harold Wood.

But, following a trial of the facts a jury concluded yesterday (Thursday) that Burke had carried out the act of kicking Ms Barwell in the head causing her death.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC told the Old Bailey this week that Mr Burke was being restrained by three other guards and had his hands secured behind his back at the time of the assault, on June 29 last year.


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The guards were trying to get Mr Burke, formerly of Oxford, to his feet after he had gone limp and fallen to the floor.

Mr Penny said: “Once on his feet the defendant was kicking behind him without making contact.

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“He then appears to have lunged forwards and managed to kick out twice at Lorraine Barwell, who was initially in front of him.”

The first kick knocked Ms Barwell to the floor and the second fractured her jaw causing a brain haemorrhage.

Ms Barwell suffered “catastrophic brain injuries” and died two days later, on July 1, when her life support machine was turned off.

Mr Justice Singh made a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

He said: “This case is on any view a tragic one. Lorraine Barwell was an employee of Serco acting as a prison custody officer at Blackfriars Crown Court.

“By all accounts she was someone dedicated to her job, she was clearly close to her family who loved her.

“It is important to emphasis that what has taken place in this court this week is not a trial at which there would be a determination of whether the defendant is guilty of a criminal offence.”

Mr Justice Singh explained the hospital order was not a punishment and indicated Burke could be tried for murder in the future if his condition improves.

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