Double murder lifer cleared a second time

Danno Sonnex,  a double murder lifer serving 40 years’ imprisonment,  was cleared at Leeds Crown Court on the 18/08/15 of two serious charges of assault on prison officers at HMP Wakefield. The prosecution alleged that DS had carried out the attacks on prison officers to secure his transfer to Broadmoor Hospital, and relied heavily on video footage showing him stabbing one of the guards in the neck with a sharpened weapon. DS alleged he has been subject to a systematic two year campaign of psychological abuse in the secretive close supervision unit (CSU) at HMP Wakefield culminating in a physical/sexual attack by 5 officers in the special accommodation cell (SAC).

 

The case required a proactive defence dealing with an application from the prison service to hold the whole trial on a prison video link (PVL) given the alleged dangerousness of the defendant (application denied). The defence adduced reverse similar fact evidence in the form of a "whistleblower" (CL) to prove prior prison officer misconduct at HMP Wakefield. L (an ex prison officer) had been awarded £477,000 in 2004 as part of a damning employment tribunal judgment against HMP Wakefield . Leading psychiatric experts were called to deal with complex issues on psychotic intent, amnesia and mens rea in the context of Aspergers disorder.  DS had previously been cleared at Reading Crown Court in 2012 on allegations of hostage taking and making threats to kill when he held a knife to the throat of a prison guard at HMP Long Lartin demanding his immediate release from that dispersal prison.

 

DS was represented by Joe Stone QC on both trials and in the present trial was leading Abigail Bright instructed by Correna Platt and Faye Dutson at Stephensons Solicitors.

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