Inmates trapped in prison van

| 18/02/2013

prison van.JPG(CNS): A defendant currently on remand at HMP Northward was taken to hospital on Friday afternoon after he fainted when he and seven other prisoners were trapped and chained inside a van outside the George Town courthouse following a Grand Court hearing. According to officials, the inmates eventually broke a window in the van after kicking at the door to attract attention to their plight. The men were trapped in the van after the prison officer in charge of the vehicle left it and was locked out by its automatic central locking system. Officials say the man who passed out was treated and returned to Northward later that evening and an investigation is now underway.

The incident occurred just weeks after a report was released into the public domain by the UK’s prison Inspectorate describing inhumane conditions at the country’s prison, as well as numerous problems with the police and court cells and the questionable treatment of remand prisoners, including what was described as the disproportionate and excessive use of shackling of prisoners being transported to and from court. 

On Friday it appears that after the prisoners, who were all chained and secured inside the van, were locked in at around 3pm, the prison officer set about finding a spare key, which took some twenty minutes — though the time period is in dispute. This caused a significant problem from the prisoner, who was suffering from claustrophobia.

Although the vehicle was said to have been running with the air-conditioning on, all eight prisoners were restrained inside the secure area at the back of the van. The prison supervisor outside the vehicle reportedly explained to the remand prisoners what was happening but when the affected inmate complained of claustrophobia and then fainted, the others became anxious, officials said.

“They kicked on the rear door until the metal stair outside became dislodged, causing one of the rear windows to break,” the authorities said in a release regarding the incident. Soon after the window was broken the back-up key arrived and the van was opened. The defendant, who has been charged with robbery but not convicted, had collapsed in the van and was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital by ambulance.

As the other inmates were removed, an altercation was believed to occur before the prison officers were able to restrain the prisoners, but ten minutes later the men were back in the van on their way to Northward. The prisoner who fainted was treated and returned to prison later that evening. The authorities stated that an investigation is now underway into what happened.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Who’s paying for the repairs to the van?

    Either the officers or the prisoners. Not public purse.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not trying to take sides here, but we read all the details each time a criminal gets a reprimand of sort or  they burn up the place and its said they were being treated unfairly. How about the Prison Staff or Police officers that are abused on a daily basis just doing there jobs as officers, So the officers can be spit on, kicked, verbaly abused, black officers being called black, white officers being called white, you get the drift, and so on and so forth. The old saying is that there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth. We have seen and heard of stories, then when the truth gets out the same family members want it to be on the low, So lets feel sorry for the criminals, but lets spread the love to the Officers as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It was only 20 mins. 

    People spend hours in immigration every day waiting on their number to be called but that never makes the news. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Are they handcuffed and chained to the chairs there? are they allowed to get up and take a walk outside for some fresh air if the wait is too long? stop talking iguana doodoo nah !!

  4. Anonymous says:

    13:19 You are correct!  The second in command does not know what she is doing and is making everyone suffer the consequeses of her actions!  We need a get a real Prison Director that knows about how a prison should be run!  Not a deputy  incharge of rehabilitaion, that is just making things worst!  And please do not give the $20million they have already lost $1million to build a new building that never was built.  XXXX

  5. Anonymous says:

    nothing will come of this, especially in Cayman, the land of eternal hypocrisy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why do people keep protecting these criminals? You will speak differently if they point a gun in your face or rob your house etc! Criminals don't deserve good treatment! They voided good treatment the day they broke the law!!!!!!


    CNS: However you feel about torturing prisoners, which is disturbing in itself, the guilt of the men in this van had not been established, which is why they were going to court.

    • Anon.....(and on and on) says:

      Let us not forget that our "People's Premier" and his hand maidens are some of the most vocal supporters of  "Innocent until Proven Guilty at the moment".  Thos who are rotting on remand while accused of lesser crimes deserve no less.

  7. Slowpoke says:

    Some of these comments are really disturbing.  Claustrophobia is a real and to the individual, a very frightening condition.  It sounds like he hyperventilated to the point of fainting – this is not fun.


    Psychological issues should be treated with the same respect as "physical" issues.  Making a paralyzed inmate drag himself up the stairs to the Court room, would not reflect well on us.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You do NOT treat people like this. Disgusting law enforcement. DISGUSTING. You do not represent the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lighten up kiddo…it was AN UNFORTUNATE MISTAKE…have you never locked yourself out of you car or home…?

  9. Anonymous says:

    They may be prisoners but they still are human and theyt have rights !

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yea until its you or one of your family members.

    • Anonymous says:

      If that was u or your children how would u feel, or u don’t have feelings for them either?

  11. Anonymous says:

    How I wish I were a Human Rights lawyer.


    Why would the driver exit the van only to be locked out, didnt he know that would happen?  Before we judge please remember these were defendants on remand not convicted criminals (even if they were guess what they do have Human Rights).  The driver is incompetent for leaving the van and being locked out. 

  12. St Peter says:

    That sounds like a good way we could use to punish robbers and those who break into the homes of our elderly.

    Just lock them in a van for a few days with no water – in the center of town…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Incompetence at best, inhuman at worst. The worst side of Cayman is very publicly on show right now and it is not pretty. There has to be a very public firing over this if there is to be any confidence in RCIPS competence. Dogs get better treatment here.

    • Anonymous says:

      The van came from HMP Northward. Nothing to do with RCIP.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can't fire Caymanians in Cayman.  He will most likely get a promotion and have some one drive for him.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can't believe the number of thumbs down.

      The decision to leave the van without the keys was gross negligence. Either the negligent party should get fired or their boss should get fuired for allowing a situation where such negligence does not merit disciplinary action / dismissal 

      There can be no upside to the decision made by the guard because there are only two outcomes – the door locks or it doesnt – and both of them have unacceptable consequences / risks.

      If the door locks the prisoners are trapped inside. You may think that the result of this being  one claustrophobic episode is no big deal (although all claustrophiobics out there will tell you how wrong minded that thought is) but  it could have been much much worse – unacceptable

      If the door doesn't lock then anybody can jump in and drive the van off – unacceptable

      That makes it a clear lose lose decision – gross incompetence. Seeya bye!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I dont recall the van being on at all! As a matter of fact I recall the inmates were locked inside and the van was off and they were suffacating from heat! I was there outside and watched the whole thing.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I guess the folks wern't satisfied with the lousy conditions at the home base enough and decided to go mobile with it.

  16. noname says:

    Uh huh!  violation of these prisoners human rights.

    Law suits here they come!

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope so. That must have been traumatic. Our government, law enforcement and police totally suck. Yes and so does our so-called Governor. I call him Silent Sam. Can't wait to buck up on him.

    • Anonymous says:

      These prisoners are good boys. We should let them out.

  17. Anonymous says:

    i guess the inspectorate was not making stuff up.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Yes well they certainly forgot to mention that the prisoners were left in the van for an hour in the heat with no air ventilation. The one prisoner fainted due to the heat and the prisoners felt like they were truly suffocating. They finally broke the window to try and get out and it was the guards who then felt the need to beat each and every one of the prisoners with their police batons. Absolutely inhumane and appalling behavior. I certainly hope there is an actual investigation into this situation and the parties responsible are actually dealt with.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well let us take a careful look at the incident, it does seem that with recent changes by the second in charge, I am told , the team speacialing in transporting prisoners were changed, and a had hoc procedure adopted, where any one is sent to transport prisoners to court. Those in the know, blames the mix up on the new procedure and the way the any one not familiar with transporting prisoners is now used to take prisoners to court, causing all sort of problems. A guess the second better take a careful look at the procedure people are saying that she introduce, what a mess.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Claustrophobia? 20 minutes in an air conditioned van with some of his buddies?


    Gee wiz – thank god we don't have 8×8 cells at Northward – he might have to be sent free.







    • Anonymous says:

      you are an idiot

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you don't know what claustrophia is like.  It is very terrifying and you feel as if you are being smothered.  Try that on yourself for size and then let me know how it feels.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Witnesses claim that the guards beat the prisoners also because they believed they were 'trying to escape' after they managed to get the van open. Prisoners or not, they are not at fault for breaking a window for air. especially after being locked inside a van with no other way out. I hope this gets investigated throroughly.