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Plaistow mum beaten in prison

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 October 2012

A mum from Newham, jailed after her baby son died in horrific circumstances, was battered black and blue when fellow prisoners carried out reprisals against her.

Inmates at a women-only jail subjected 29-year-old Claire Biggs to a punishment beating after hurling missiles at her, a Crown Court was told.

Katie Burston, 26, from Paignton, Devon, was among the mob who surrounded Miss Biggs and another unpopular prisoner as the pair cowered inside a shed being pelted with missiles, the court heard.

Miss Biggs had been jailed for child cruelty after the death of her eight-week-old son who suffered broken ribs and shoulder bones.

She had to be rushed to hospital bleeding from a head wound and bruises on her body after she was attacked with a metal bar in the prison garden, it was revealed.

Burston, 25, from Paignton, appeared for sentence after pleading at an earlier hearing to assault causing actual bodily harm.

The court was told that Miss Biggs, now 30, was hated by other jail inmates at HMP Send near Woking, Surrey, because of her crimes against her son Rhys for which she had been sent to prison for eight years, reduced to seven years on appeal..

Robin Sellers, prosecuting, said: “Miss Biggs was unpopular in prison because of the nature of her conviction.”

On the day of the attack, on July 31 last year she and another disliked inmate, Dawn Gregory, were put on a gardening project, to the fury of other prisoners.

Mr Sellers said that during the course of their duties, Miss Biggs and Ms Gregory had to go to a shed - but found themselves unable to get out after coming under siege from other inmates.

“The shed was subject to impacts from stones,” he said.

Then a group of prisoners armed with gardening tools advanced on the two victims.

“Miss Biggs was attacked with a hose extension and a piece of wood,” said Mr Sellers.

In a victim impact statement, the injured woman said: “My injuries took a week to heal.”

Miss Biggs said she had been left feeling extremely nervous and had to be accompanied everywhere either by a friendly inmate or a prison officer.

Burston pleaed guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the basis of joint enterprise.

The former heroin addict had been serving a jail sentence of two years and eight months for robbery and attempted robbery in Exeter.

Jeremy Sharples, defending, said his client had now been released on licence from prison and was off drugs.

He said she had a seven year old son and was leading an honest life.

Referring to the prison attack, Mr Sharples said: “She didn’t strike anyone with a weapon, although she accepts joint enterprise and core responsibility.”

Judge Christopher Critchlow said he would spare Burston a further spell behind bars.

“You now realise that what you did was inexcusable and wrong,” he said.

Judge Critchlow said that Miss Biggs had not deserved to be attacked by fellow prisoners whatever her crimes.

Burston was sentenced to 10 months jail, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and instructed to undergo 12 months supervision from the probation service.


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