Serco will be convicted of security issues that led to the death of the custody officer

A security contractor will later be convicted of health and safety deficiencies that resulted in a mentally ill prisoner kicking a probation officer to death.

Humphrey Burke, now 29, attacked Lorraine Barwell, 54, as she tried to escort him from her cell at Blackfriars Crown Court in central London in June 2015.

Burke admitted to manslaughter by reduced liability and received an indefinite hospital order at the Old Bailey in January.

Ms Barwell’s employer Serco, who is contracted by the Ministry of Justice to provide security services in courts of law, pleaded guilty in April to one count of failure to comply with general health, safety and wellness from January 2014 to March 2017.

The prosecution said two assaults on probation officers – Ms Barwell and Bernadette Cawley – during that time demonstrated what can happen if the right health and safety measures are not taken.

Ms Cawley, who survived the attack, was strangled and rammed into a wall in the dock at a courthouse attached to Woolwich Crown Court in June 2016, but no other custodial staff were nearby to help when she pressed l ‘alarm.

Serco is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday by Judge Jeremy Baker.

Humphrey Burke admitted to killing Serco Guard Lorraine Barwell (Metropolitan Police/PA)

In an earlier hearing, Attorney Gordon Menzies said Serco’s court and escort staff were put at risk due to issues with staffing levels, information, information management, training, management and personal protective equipment ( PPE).

Mrs. Barwell was a member of the van crew, but had been enlisted to assist in transporting Burke from his cell to the van due to court shortages.

He was unaware of Burke’s previous violent outbursts despite Serco having access to this information.

Mr Menzies said: ‘Nobody told her or gave her any indication that this was a man who could lash out for any reason and you couldn’t read him or know how he would react and that certainly is what happened here.

“Without warning, he lashed out at Lorraine Barwell. She kicked her once, she fell to the ground and he hit her on the head again and she was fatally injured.

“She entered the situation blind.”

She had not received sufficient training in “control and containment” and was not provided with a PPE helmet, the court said.

On the day Ms Cawley was attacked by a prisoner there were just 22 staff at the courthouse when there should have been 32, the Old Bailey was told.

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