independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Prisoner accused of intimidating jail inmates to convert to Islam

A Muslim jailed for his involvement in the killing of a woman at a christening party has been accused of bullying and intimidating jail inmates to convert to Islam, it was revealed today.

The accusations, which also include gang activity in prison and possessing a home-made weapon, came to light as the High Court in London rejected Jude Odigie's challenge to his transfer from a private prison to a high security jail.

Odigie, 24, was a teenager when he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced at the Old Bailey in February 2007 to detention "for public protection" and ordered to serve a minimum period of seven years, three months, eight days.

He was part of a gang which invaded a christening party at a community centre in Peckham, south London, and stole mobile phones and handbags.

A shot was fired by another member of the gang and hit a woman, who was holding a baby, in the head. The baby was unharmed but the woman, Zainab Kalokoh, 33, died later in hospital.

Odigie was sentenced on the basis that he was involved in the "joint enterprise" attack on the christening party, although he did not personally fire the gun.

Odigie was held at various prisons until he was moved in June 2012 to Lowdham Grange, a Category B training prison for men operated by Serco Ltd in the East Midlands.

His cell was searched on October 12 2012 and a tin opener was found which came apart, with one handle sharpened to a point. A plastic handle was also found wrapped in bootlaces into which the sharpened point could fit to make a weapon, the High Court heard.

The following day, at a specially convened hearing at the prison, he said he had borrowed the tin opener quite innocently, and the plastic handle was something he used in the course of his weight training.

Odigie was told he was being segregated due to intelligence suggesting he was involved in bullying and intimidating other inmates and being in possession of a home-made weapon.

He was then moved to Full Sutton high security prison.

He launched a High Court challenge and asked deputy judge Philip Mott QC to quash the transfer decision and return him to Lowdham Grange on the basis the move was procedurally unfair and an abuse of power.

Julian Coningham, his solicitor advocate, argued at a one-day hearing in November that the prison authorities failed to follow proper procedures and did not wait for the result of an adjudication on the allegations against Odigie before the transfer took place.

Today, Judge Mott said Odigie's application for judicial review "fails on all grounds".

The judge said a gist of the accusations against him "does set out a consistent pattern of information pointing to pressure being put on other prisoners to convert to Islam, and the use of threats to those who do not comply".

The cell search was "prompted by intelligence, and proved to be absolutely justified".

The judge added: "The discovery of a home-made weapon in his cell appeared to substantiate this intelligence."

He ruled: "In my judgement the undisputed facts and background were sufficient to justify action being taken without waiting for the result of the adjudication.

"The finding of the weapon was a serious matter. The background of perceived threats and bullying clearly had to be borne in mind also, but was not needed to justify taking action.

"In those circumstances, any difficulties in judging the reliability of the security information do not undermine the decision to act."

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