Ex-inmate threatens to sue over cell attack

James McPhee says he has been left partially blind and scarred by last month's attack.
James McPhee says he has been left partially blind and scarred by last month's attack.
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A FORMER prisoner who suffered severe burns after a cellmate emptied a kettle of boiling water over him told today how he was considering legal action.

James McPhee, 39, claimed he had been left partially blind and scarred by the attack, which happened at Saughton Prison last month.

He said he had been rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for treatment to his face and neck but claimed to have been sent back to prison “hours later” in bandages and with just a handful of painkillers. The following day he said he was taken to St John’s Hospital in excruciating pain where he was allowed to recover for a fortnight before being released.

Mr McPhee said he was “treated like cattle” during his initial hospital visit but NHS Lothian has denied any wrongdoing.

However, Mr McPhee said he planned to consult a solicitor to discuss legal options against the prison and the health board.

The father-of-five today told how he was still haunted by the ordeal.

“It was Saturday afternoon and I was lying sleeping on my side after having my dinner,” said Mr McPhee.

“I could hear [my cellmate] walking around as I was dozing off and the next thing I knew he had thrown boiling water over my face.

“The pain was unbearable. The water burnt the inside of my ear and has left me partially blind. All along the right hand side of my face and down my neck and chest were injured.

“When I first saw my injuries in the mirror I started crying and thought they would never heal. I didn’t want my kids to see me after it.”

The ex-prisoner, who said he had been jailed for breaching bail conditions, praised staff at St John’s for the care he received. But he now intends to seek legal advice over his treatment at the ERI and in prison.

Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said the case had been reviewed by a burns consultant and the care “found to be appropriate”.

He said Mr McPhee received “correct immediate treatment” and that a “follow-up appointment at St John’s was made”.

“In Mr McPhee’s case, he was admitted to the unit for ongoing pain relief and dressings, but did not require surgery,” he added.

A spokesman for the Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The procurator fiscal has received a report concerning a 42-year-old male, in connection with an incident on December 3, 2011. The matter remains under consideration.”

No-one from the Scottish Prison Service could be contacted for comment.