Prisoner to sue over toilet distress

A CONVICTED burglar jailed for three-and-a-half years is suing prison bosses for breaching his human rights because he had to empty his toilet pot while behind bars in Suffolk.

A CONVICTED burglar jailed for three-and-a-half years is suing prison bosses for breaching his human rights because he had to empty his toilet pot while behind bars in Suffolk.

Daniel Cornell, of Roseallen Avenue, Colchester, is claiming £50,000 from the Ministry of Justice for “distress” during his term at HMP Blundeston, near Lowestoft.

Throughout this time he claims he was required to empty his toilet pot - or “slop out” - on a regular basis and that there was a lack of ventilation in his cell.

He says the conditions amounted to a breach of Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In June 2004 Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Cornell, then 28, stole more than £15,000 worth of property from homes in Colchester between May 2003 and April 2004.

Cornell - a prisoner at HMP Blundeston between June 14 2004 and November 14 2005 - was jailed for a total of three-and-half years after he admitted four burglaries and asked for another 43 similar matters to be considered.

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According to the writ prisoners at Blundeston would be locked in their cells for approximately 13 hours per day between Tuesday and Friday and for more than 14 hours a day during the weekend.

During these hours inmates would only be able to access toilets by using an electronic unlocking system, which enables a prisoner to obtain access to sanitation facilities while their cell is locked.

However it is alleged the system suffers from a number of problems - only one prisoner is allowed out of their cell at any time, inmates can be left a whole night without access to toilets and a prisoner is not allowed out of their cell for more than eight minutes and only for a maximum of three times a night.

As a result prisoners are issued with plastic chamber pots which they have to empty the next day.

Last night a spokesman for the government department said he could not comment on active legal proceedings.

Although the writ says Cornell is claiming against the Home Office the spokesman confirmed it was actually a matter for the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for prisons.