Life sentence for radicalised inmate from Dagenham who attempted to murder prison officer

Baz Hockton, 26, has been found guilty of attempted murder. Picture: Met Police

Baz Hockton, 26, has been found guilty of attempted murder. Picture: Met Police - Credit: PA

A radicalised prison inmate has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 23 years after trying to murder a prison officer in an Islamist terror attack behind bars.

Brusthom Ziamani. Picture: Met Police

Brusthom Ziamani. Picture: Met Police - Credit: PA

Baz Hockton, who is originally from Dagenham, was jailed alongside Brusthom Ziamani on Thursday, October 8 after being found guilty of the attack at maximum security HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire.

The Old Bailey heard how prison officer Neil Trundle was left covered in blood after he was targeted by the pair in January this year. They were armed with makeshift bladed weapons and wearing fake suicide belts as they shouted: “Allahu Akbar”.

Nurse Jayle Cowles and prison officer Georgina Ibbotson were also hurt as they tried to intervene.

Ziamani admitted assaulting the two women and he and Hockton were both found guilty of attempted murder by an Old Bailey jury on Wednesday, October 7.

Ziamani would have been eligible for parole in 2027 but the judge, Mrs Justice May, handed him a life sentence on Thursday and said he must serve at least 21 years.

Sentencing Hockton, 26, Mrs Justice May said she was satisfied he was “inspired by extremist beliefs” and had a “terrorist connection”.

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She told him: “Your current twisted view of Islam needs to change.”

Hockton, who has a long history of violence and possessing bladed articles, is three years into a 12-year jail term for stabbing and punching a man in October 2016 and slashing another the following month.

He was also sentenced to a concurrent 10-year term for wounding a prisoner with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at Swaleside prison, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, in April last year.

The court heard how he slashed his fellow inmate with a weapon that was never recovered, leaving his victim with a scar.

The terror attack is believed to be the first of its kind inside a UK jail, although a homemade IRA bomb was exploded inside Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast in 1991.

Mrs Justice May added: “It is quite plain to me that the defendants must have been planning this terrorist operation for some time, preparing fake suicide belts and multiple weapons for the purpose.

“These defendants, inside prison, didn’t have ready access to weapons or explosives but did their utmost to plan and execute a terrorist attack with what they could get their hands upon in prison.”

Ziamani, originally from Camberwell, south London, was jailed in 2015 after he was caught with a hammer and knife on his way to behead a soldier.

The court had heard how Ziamani and Hockton lured “kind and helpful” Mr Trundle to a store cupboard on the pretext of asking for a spoon.

They then set upon the officer, targeting his vulnerable head, upper chest and neck areas while shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

Ziamani punched Ms Cowles and Ms Ibbotson before opening his jacket to expose a fake suicide belt as he said: “I’ve got a bomb.”

Hockton was captured on CCTV footage charging at another officer before both inmates were restrained.

An examination of the fake suicide belts revealed one had been constructed with a battery and pressurised can and the other was made from boxer short elastic, electrical cable and plastic bottles.

The court heard the attack on Mr Trundle lasted 24 seconds and the judge said: “The violence against him was short-lived but it was strikingly and shockingly ferocious while it continued.”

Mr Trundle, who has worked at Whitemoor for more than 17 years, suffered cuts to his scalp, arm and shoulder.

He said: “Before I knew it I was on the floor on my back.

“I did not see any weapons. I could feel blows coming down on me.

“I did not realise how bad the damage was to myself until I went to the hospital and looked in the mirror.”

Speaking after the verdicts, he added: “I thank those colleagues of mine who risked their lives coming to my aid on that terrible day.

“If it was not for their bravery and instant response, I am convinced I would not be here today.”

Giving evidence, Ziamani denied the attack was terror related. He said he wanted to inflict some damage to get sent to a different prison because Whitemoor had become hostile to Muslims.

Hockton did not give evidence. He admitted wounding with intent but denied the more serious charge of attempted murder.