Prisoner is scalded in horror cell attack

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A PRISONER suffered horrific burns after a cellmate emptied a kettle of boiling water over his face as he slept.

James McPhee, 38, had been resting in bed at Saughton Prison when a fellow prisoner poured the scalding water over him.

Mr McPhee was left with severe burns to his face, neck and hands, leaving him “barely recognisable”.

A family member, who wished to remain anonymous, said Mr McPhee had been released in “mortal agony” from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary shortly after being admitted.

They added that he was given only a handful of co-codemol tablets to relieve the pain following the attack on Saturday afternoon.

They claim he went into shock the following day at Saughton Prison and was rushed to St John’s Hospital in Livingston, where he is still receiving treatment.

“He’s badly depressed and says he keeps getting flashbacks from it,” said another relative.

“He was sound asleep and woke up thinking his face and hands were freezing cold but they were actually burning.

“When he woke up he tried to push the guy away from him but he can’t remember much more than that, but the prison guards had burst in.

“He just remembers the terrible pain and not much more. He was screaming in pain, he said.”

The relative said that Mr McPhee would have to endure several skin grafts to treat his injuries.

“He is having an operation to take his teeth out and try to repair his jaw, which is out of shape, like it’s been moved, because the burns are so bad.

“His whole face is out of shape – his nose, eyes and jaw – it’s horrendous. His ear is also badly damaged.

“He just keeps crying all the time.”

It is understood Mr McPhee had been returned to Saughton Prison after breaching his bail conditions following a shoplifting conviction.

A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police are investigating after a 38-year-old man was assaulted within Saughton Prison.

“The victim suffered burns to his face during the incident, which happened on Saturday, December 3.

“Officers are currently following a positive line of enquiry to identify the individual responsible for this attack.”

Reacting to allegations that the Royal Infirmary had released Mr McPhee prematurely and without proper medical attention, Jackie Sansbury, chief operating officer of NHS Lothian, said: “We do not have permission to discuss this individual case and we have not been contacted by the patient involved or his family.

“However, NHS Lothian takes all complaints very seriously and I would urge them to get in touch if they wanted to discuss the case.”

A police spokesman said a man was expected to be reported to the procurator fiscal imminently in connection with a serious assault.