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Muslim prisoners 'attacked fellow inmate over insult to Prophet', Hull Crown Court hears
From the Hull Daily Mail
A CHRISTIAN prisoner was attacked by two Muslim inmates at a maximum security jail because he "defiled the image of the Prophet", a court heard.
Simon Richards was assaulted by Mahad Ali, 27, and Umar Arshad, 26, at HMP Full Sutton over comments Richards allegedly made to another prisoner, Luke Elliott, who was considering converting to Islam, Hull Crown Court heard.
Richards and Elliott were friends, the court heard, and Richards had offered support when Elliott's father died.
When Elliott discussed his thoughts about converting to Islam, Richards "seemed sceptical though not discouraging", Mr Woodcock said.
Before Elliott gave evidence over a video link from the jail near Pocklington, Mr Woodcock said: "You need to be sworn. Is there a Bible or a New Testament?"
"He's a Muslim," said Erimnaz Mushtaq, junior defence counsel for Mr Ali.So he went ahead with the conversion even after his mate was attacked - I wonder why?
Elliott told the court Richards made a comment when they were alone in Elliott's cell, which did not trouble him but may offend others.
"What, if anything, did you say to him when he said it?" asked Mr Woodcock.
Elliott replied: "I had a little laugh. I told him not to repeat that to any Muslim."
Mr Woodcock had earlier told the jury: "It was this remark which, unfortunately, was repeated and spread around the prison. The rumour was that Richards had defiled the image of the Prophet... It may be that fanatics have no sense of humour, that their sensibilities might be easily offended. It may also be that describing the Prophet in those terms is indeed offensive. It really doesn't matter one bit so far as this case is concerned."
A jury was shown CCTV footage of the prisoners walking circuits of the exercise yard in E Wing on March 24 last year with Ali and Arshad allegedly "stalking" Richards as he walked in front of them.
As Richards – who, the court heard, expected "some kind of vengeance to be taken upon him" – reached the exit he ran for the doors, where his attackers pounced, it is claimed.
Ali was armed with an improvised weapon, made of two razor blades melted into the white handle of a toothbrush, and Richards was lucky to escape serious injury, the court was told. Richards, who suffered minor cuts and scratches in the incident, was too scared to give evidence out of fear of being labelled a "grass", the court was told.
Ali, of HMP Wakefield, and Arshad, of HMP Frankland, in Durham, both deny a single charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm. The trial continues.