Prisoner tried to kill inmates to extend sentence

Joseph Whyte tried to kill another prisoner at Saughton. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Joseph Whyte tried to kill another prisoner at Saughton. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A prisoner who carried out two chilling attacks on other inmates was given a life sentence today after maintaining that he would kill to get back in jail if freed.

Joseph Whyte told prison officers after a murder bid in Edinburgh’s Saughton prison: “I’ll do a lifer. This is my home.”

A judge told Whyte that he had been assessed as posing a high risk to the safety of the public in general and added: “I am in no doubt you are a very dangerous man.”

Lord Uist imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Whyte, 30, and ordered that he serve a minimum sentence of six years and eight months in jail before he can apply to the Parole Board for release.

But the judge told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You must not assume you will be released at the end of that period. You will be released only when it is considered no longer necessary for the safety of the public that you continue to be confined in prison.”

Lord Uist ordered that the minimum term should be served from the expiry of previous sentences imposed on Whyte for which his earliest release date is in February 2018.

Whyte said as a risk assessment was carried out on him that he felt no emotion towards his victims and no guilt about what he had done and that if released he would kill to get back into prison.

Whyte, from Edinburgh, walked away from his first victim sniggering to himself after slashing him in the neck with a razor in the city’s Saughton prison before swinging a pool cue in the air and repeating: “I’ve killed him.”

The heavily bleeding prisoner, Alexander Smith, stumbled into a jail office and told a manager: “I think it’s an artery. I’ve been done.”

Smith would have died from blood loss without prompt medical attention but doctors managed to close his 12 cm long gaping neck wound with 20 staples.

Whyte asked an officer after the attack: “Is he going to die? I hope he dies.” He was asked whether he meant it and replied: “Aye, I do. I swear on my sister’s grave.”

The court earlier heard that he was placed in segregation following the attempted murder in Saughton before later being transferred to Addiewell prison in West Lothian.

His solicitor advocate Ewen Roy said: “What is perhaps more surprising is that he was only in segregation in Addiewell for a day after arriving there and then, to his surprise, was moved into the general prison population.”

Whyte went on to attack another prisoner with a blade who suffered wounds to his throat and face. The victim, Jason Motion, had a total of 33 sutures inserted to the injuries and will be scarred for life.

Advocate depute Ross Macfarlane said Whyte grabbed him from behind and began to strike him repeatedly with the blade.

“Prison warders were alerted when they heard the victim’s screams and they saw the stabbing action. At this point, he was bleeding heavily from his face and neck,” he said.

Whyte earlier admitted attempting to murder Smith on February 26 last year at Saughton prison by striking him on the neck with a bladed instrument to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and danger of his life.

He also pled guilty to assaulting Motion to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and danger of his life on August 8 at Addiewell.

The court heard that Whyte has an extensive record mostly for theft and assault.

At the time of the first attack Smith had been sitting at a table with another inmate in a communal area at Saughton when he aware of warm fluid on his neck.

He put his hand to it and realised that he was bleeding profusely. Mr Macfarlane said: “At this time he saw Whyte walking away and ‘sniggering’ to himself.”

Staff gave the victim first aid and paramedics were called for the injured man.

Mr Macfarlane said: “He believed he was going to die as a result of the attack and he was terrified.”

The second victim had been sitting at stairs in Addiewell prison when Whyte sat behind him and pulled out a blade and launched his attack.

The prosecutor told the court that it was believed that Whyte was “completely institutionalised”.

He said: “It is further believed that he carried out these crimes because he wanted to remain within the prison system.”

Mr Roy said Whyte has been in segregation in prison for the last 14 months and will be “for the foreseeable future”.

He said he had been diagnosed with a severe personality disorder with anti-social personality traits.

The defence solicitor advocate said: “He has spent most of the last 14 years of his adult life in custody.”