21:13 GMT29 May 2020
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    A man has been acquitted of murdering another inmate in London's Wormwood Scrubs prison on the grounds of self-defence. Sputnik spoke to a former inmate of the jail's C Wing, which was nicknamed "Kabul", who was released this year about how under-staffing had affected conditions.

    Kalifa Dibbassey, who claimed violence in the jail's C Wing was out of control and he was in fear of his life, was found not guilty of murdering Khader Saleh, 31, in C Wing on January 31 this year.

    Enton Marku, 21, was also acquitted on Tuesday, November 27. A third man, Ahmed Khayre, 22, walked free on November 13 after the judge ordered a verdict of not guilty to be recorded earlier this month.

    The trial heard C Wing had a reputation for violence and gang conflict and Dibbassey told the court his trial had never been searched. Two home-made knives, or "shanks", were found in the cell after he was arrested for stabbing Saleh to death with another improvised weapon, made from the protective plate on the back of a television.

    Drugs and Mobile Phones in Prison

    The trial also heard that drugs and mobile phones were rife inside the prison and Dibbassey had twice been involved in violent clashes with Saleh without anyone acting to transfer one or both of them to other wings of the jail.

    In his closing speech defence barrister James Scobie, QC, said "this was not meant to happen" and Dibbassey had been trying to sort out a disagreement between his best friend, Simran Bopari, and Saleh.

    It escalated when the deceased became upset at the fact that Bopari was not there himself.

    Paul, an inmate who spent two months in Wormwood Scrubs earlier this year for a motoring offence, told Sputnik it was an "s*** prison".

    'One of my cellmates was in numerous scuffles and he was sent to the governor and he was let off with everything. He walked back into the cell happy as Larry. He was surprised himself what he got away with,' Paul told Sputnik.

    'Prior to me going there, C Wing was locked down for three days. Nobody was allowed out of their cells and there was a full sweep for weapons and phones,' Paul told Sputnik.

    Paul said the cell where Saleh was killed was right next to the one he lived in and it was sealed up until July this year.

    C Wing Was Known as 'Kabul'

    He said C Wing was nicknamed "Kabul" because of its reputation for conflict.

    Paul said that since Dibbassey's murder the pool table had been removed because cues and balls were being used as weapons but little else had changed.

    'Black guys stick together, all the Muslims stick together. I don't know the gang names but there were groups of people who stuck together and looked after each other,' Paul told Sputnik.

    He said under-staffing at the jail was so bad that prisoners were frequently locked in for 23 hours a day and many inmates did not get their food or their medicines.

    'Education was constantly being cancelled, there was no information and that is probably the hardest thing,' Paul told Sputnik.

    He said some of the guards were particularly officious, including one woman who was nicknamed 'Little Hitler'".

    Inmates on Drugs Were Like 'Zombies'

    Paul said the smell of cannabis was all pervading on C Wing and many inmates walked around like "zombies" having taken spice.

    Giving evidence, Dibbassey denied he was in a gang but said two of the most prominent gangs in the prison were the Stonebridge Thugs and the rival Church Road Soldiers, both from north-west London.

    Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London
    © AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis
    Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London

    Dibbassey said Khader Saleh was part of a gang of 'Somali boys' who often caused trouble on C Wing.

    He told the court how on July 31, 2017 — only days after he arrived on C Wing — he waded in to protect his older brother, Jaliba, who was fighting Saleh.

    Dibbassey was put 'on report' for fighting and was ordered to see a governor, but the case was adjourned when he demanded to see a lawyer.

    On August 16, 2017, Dibbassey was again '"put on report' after fighting another man from the Somali gang.

    That case too was adjourned and never followed up.

    'So twice within two weeks, you were put on report. Was there any talk about putting you on another wing?' Mr. Scobie asked him.

    'No,' he replied.

    Stabbed With Knife Made From Chair Leg

    On January 31, 2018, Saleh was stabbed through the heart with an improved knife, known as a "shank", made from a chair leg.

    The trial heard Saleh had been involved in a fight with Dibbassey's best friend, Simran Bopari, the previous day.

    'He had no chance to defend himself or to strike out at his attackers. The damage it caused was catastrophic and without immediate surgical intervention, there was no hope of survival. Khader Saleh lay bleeding to death on the floor of the toilet,' prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said in his opening statement at the trial on October 24.

    Dibbassey was asked about two shanks which were found in his cell after Saleh was killed.

    He admitted they were his and said they had been made from chair legs.

    Mr. Scobie showed him a picture of the chair in his cell, with its legs missing.

    'How long had the chair been broken up to make weapons?' asked Mr. Scobie.

    'About a month,' he replied.

    'Why did you need a weapon?' Mr. Scobie asked him.

    'Because of what was going on on the wing. A lot of people had weapons. People were getting attacked. I needed a weapon. People were getting attacked in the showers and the cells,' Dibbassey replied.

    Killer Took Selfie With 'Shank'

    Mr. Scobie then showed him a photograph of himself holding one of the shanks in the cell and Dibbassey admitted it had been taken on a smartphone which had been smuggled into the jail.

    Mr. Scobie asked him why he took the selfie.

    'I had a knife, I had a phone. I put a mask on my face,' said Dibbassey.

    Mr. Scobie asked him if phones were common in the prison.

    'Yes,' he replied, and he added that he had bought his from another inmate.

    'How do they get in?' Mr. Scobie asked.

    'Sometimes officers bring it in. People throw it over the walls or drones. Drones fly over and drop a package at your window,' Dibbassey said.

    Saleh had been in the prison awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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