A prison officer feared for his life as the prisoner strangled him and inmates gathered to watch

A prison officer said he feared for his life after an inmate at Holme House prison punched him three times and held him in a headlock on the floor in a bid to ‘him to choke”.

Teesside Crown Court heard inmates gathered around Russell Dixon during the attack, pushing him not to release the prison guard. Other officers arrived and removed Dixon, after he “effectively strangled or strangled the officer”.

Dixon then yelled at the officer “I told you so, didn’t I? I told you so”. The court heard the attack lasted two minutes.

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In a statement, the officer said he needed oxygen after the attack and was off work for three weeks, suffering from depression and sleep problems.

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe said Dixon, 29, flew into a rage on the afternoon of September 13, 2020 after activating the emergency alarm in his cell. When the prison guard arrived, he asked if he could be allowed out to go to the canteen kiosk and see the prison nurse.

The officer refused, saying he could ask later, as there were already too many prisoners outside their cells. Russell sounded the alarm twice more and the prison officer told him that he would have to eat his meal in his cell, as punishment. But when he sounded his alarm for the fourth time, another guard answered and he let Dixon out.

Mr Newcombe told the court the first prison officer felt Dixon staring at him as he queued to see the nurse. Dixon then approached the prison officer from behind and spilled a bottle of liquid in his face. The officer thought the liquid was urine – and said it got into his eyes, ears and mouth.

Dixon hit the officer in the head three times and they both fell to the ground. Dixon then put his hands around the officer’s neck, and Mr Newcombe said it ‘effectively strangled or strangled the prison officer’.

Russell Dixon, of Dunholme Road in Newcastle, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm, on the grounds that the liquid he poured on the officer was shower gel and not urine.

The court heard that Dixon had previous convictions for multiple assaults, assault causing actual bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon and death threats.

Lewis Kerr, defending, said his client had spent a long time in prison for his previous offenses and suffered from a personality disorder. Mr Kerr said he accepted it was a ‘prolonged assault with strangulation’.

Judge Ian Mullarkey sentenced Dixon to 18 months in prison.

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