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Three inmates cleared of fatal stabbing in Pentonville prison

6 December 2017

Di Middleton QC

Three prisoners have been found not guilty of killing a fellow inmate in Pentonville prison after a row over smuggled contraband. Jamal Mahmoud, 21, was fatally stabbed in Pentonville prison in October 2016.

Robert Butler, 31, Basana Kimbembi, 35, and Joshua Ratner, 27, were all found not guilty of murder and wounding with intent by an Old Bailey jury on 5 December 2017. Di Middleton QC of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team represented Butler, leading Piers Marquis of Doughty Street Chambers.

Kimbembi and Butler both denied delivering the fatal wound to Mahmoud and said their co-accused, Ratner, was not involved.

Butler told jurors he swung out blindly with a folding knife after he was stabbed in the back and attacked with a weighted sock when he tried to act as a peace maker in a dispute about contraband.

Asked why he had bought the knife for £150 behind bars, Butler said: “The majority of G wing prisoners have weapons. I’ve seen lots of people get stabbed and I didn’t want it to be me.”

Mahmoud was attacked at the prison in the same year that an inspection identified acute staff shortages. Two thirds of inmates reported that they felt unsafe there. A follow-up visit in January found levels of violence remained too high.

This case has been widely reported in the media including the Guardian, the BBC and the Islington Gazette.

Di Middleton QC is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team.

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