Prisoner who slashed officer’s throat with razor blade attached to a toothbrush given life sentence

Joshua Kendall launched the attack outside his cell at HMP Onley

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A prisoner tried to murder a prison officer by slashing his throat with a razor blade attached to a toothbrush, a court has heard.

Joshua Kendall, 29, launched the brutal attack outside his cell at HMP Onley using the improvised weapon on 8 February 2020 as the guard was clearing away balls from a nearby pool table after a recreation break from prisoners.

Mr Kendall approached him from behind and used a ‘drawing motion’ from the officer’s left ear across the throat to his right ear twice with the blade.

Northampton Crown Court heard how colleagues and other prisoners desperately rushed to his aid, but the 29-year-old continued to lash out with the weapon.

He was finally restrained by other staff after back-up arrived at the category-C Northamptonshire prison.

A further improvised weapon was found in Mr Kendall’s possession after being searched and he was later charged with attempted murder.

Mr Kendall, formerly of Loughton, Essex, had also assaulted another guard over access to the prison phone by punching him in the jaw a month earlier on 22 January.

Joshua Kendall was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 19 years and four months (Photo: Northamptonshire Police / SWNS)Joshua Kendall was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 19 years and four months (Photo: Northamptonshire Police / SWNS)
Joshua Kendall was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 19 years and four months (Photo: Northamptonshire Police / SWNS)

‘It has totally knocked me’

The slashed officer miraculously escaped the attack without any serious injury but has been left emotionally scarred by the attack.

In his personal statement read out in court, he said: “This incident has affected me mentally.

"I think about what happened all the time and how lucky I was that he didn’t manage to hurt me physically more than he did. It has totally knocked me.

"I didn’t realise how much but when I drive to and from work now I have times during my commute that I feel as though I can’t breathe.”

The court heard that officers found another sharpened blade and a sharpened toothbrush handle in Mr Kendall’s possession and could smell spice in his prison cell. The prisoner told officers in an interview that he was “spiked” with spice and he heard voices telling him to harm himself and others.

During the earlier attack on another officer, Mr Kendall was being escorted back to his cell when he said he wanted to make a phone call but was told by the guard he could not make it right now, but could do so later.

The court heard that Mr Kendall then walked back to the phone again and, appearing “calm and collected”, told the prison officer, “I am making the call now.” He then punched the prison officer hard in the jaw and it took several officers to restrain him and return him to his cell.

The court also heard on one occasion the 29-year-old approached another prisoner and told him he “does not like jail” and he wanted to meet up with terrorists in another prison.

He has previous convictions of shoplifting, burglary, possession of a bladed article, resisting arrest, assaulting emergency workers and dangerous driving.

Adam Davis, defending, said his client had a severe personality disorder and had a mental health episode the day prior to the attack.

He said: “Clearly, he was suffering so there is an alternative explanation for fashioning these weapons. Nothing was done about isolating him, nothing was done about making sure he did not self harm again, he was just left in the state he was in.

“The person on CCTV was a highly disturbed individual. With the help he is undertaking now, there is some hope for him.”

Court issues life sentence

Mr Kendal pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder and one count of assaulting an emergency worker at Northampton Crown Court.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 19 years and four months on Tuesday (20 September).

Announcing the sentencing, Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking KC commended the prison officer who was almost killed, saying he showed “outstanding commitment and courage” by returning to work.

She said: “The fact that he was able to return to work at all after this terrifying incident is a mark of his outstanding commitment and courage.

"This was a pre-planned and determined effort to kill a prison officer and the offence was committed for what you saw as a desirable prison transfer to meet terrorists.”

Detective Sergeant Sarah Moore, from East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), added: “I am really pleased to see Joshua Kendall handed a significant sentence for these exceptionally serious assaults, ones that could have had fatal consequences.

“Prison officers, just like other emergency workers, do not go to work expecting to be assaulted and such incidents should never be seen as simply ‘part of the job’.

"Violence of this nature, against those who work hard to maintain order within prisons, will not be tolerated.

“That’s why it’s so important to prosecute people like Kendall with the full force of the law and I’m pleased that he has been convicted and sentenced for attempted murder.

“The prison officers in this case have shown resolve and courage throughout our investigation and I would like to thank them both for their cooperation.

“I hope the conclusion of this case today will allow them to fully move forward knowing that the man who injured them will be detained for a much greater period of time."