Saturday, October 18, 2008

Prisoner Orders Murder Using Cell Phone

The BBC reports on a prisoner who ordered a murder using a smuggled cell phone.

Delphon Nicholas, 29, from Lewisham, south-east London, was convicted on Thursday of murdering Andrew Wanogho, in Brockley, on 8 April 2006.

Nicholas made dozens of calls from London's Belmarsh prison to gunman Trevor Dennie, the Old Bailey heard.

Dennie, 33, from Deptford, south-east London was also convicted of murder and jailed for life.

Both men were ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison.

An interesting side note is about the gun used. It was one of those we've talked about before, one which is passed around from one gang member to another and used in several crimes. What does that do to the statistics, I wonder?

In Great Britain, as in other places I'm sure, the smuggling of contraband into prisons is epidemic. This BBC report says that 3,473 mobile phones or sim cards were discovered in prisons in England and Wales between October 2006 and September 2007.

What should be done about this? Are the guards at fault? Is it really that hard to prevent this kind of thing?

What's your opinion? Dangerous prisoners should certainly be deprived of the means of committing further crimes, I would say.


  1. Mike,

    There are a couple of very effective way to make sure prisoners don't communicate to commit other crimes.

    Solitary confinement would do that but that would violate their rights to free speech, right to assemble; are you willing to impose such harsh penalties?

    The death penalty will also effectively eliminate this type of crimes, wouldn't it?

    As to the crime itself, I would like to point out that this was caused by friends "falling out"; not the gun.
    Would you classify this as a gun culture crime or a thug culture crime?
    I would call it thug based on this
    In February 2006, Mr Wanogho - known by the street name Sparks - insulted Nicholas by assaulting his father and stealing his car, which the prosecution said resulted in Mr Wanogho being "set up for execution".

    This is a group of people that accept predatory violence as a way of life, the gun was a minor tool in the drama.

    The issue with the cell phone illustrates why gun bans don't work. In one of the most controlled environments in the world, prison, contraband is still smuggled in. In America, firearms have also been smuggled into prison.

    What has Britain's restrictive gun control laws done other then remove firearms from the hands of the responsible people?

  2. Bob has some good points, but I'll take a more nuts-and-bolts responce.

    First that it was a "communal gun" used that just further shows that "gun crime's" only significant component is the criminal. Also my point is further verified by the number of Stabbings and beatings in prison (and the imaginative weapons used). Guns are pretty rare.

    Still if I worked in this Prison, or payed for it with my tax monies, I'd want to know HOW that gun got in there.

    #1. This could have killed a guard!

    #2. If we sentence a prisoner to death they should be killed by the State....otherwise prisoners should NOT be killed under any circumstances except in the rare instance to protect the lives of guards and other prisoners.

    So the prison administration should work VERY hard to seal up the prison so that outside elements like guns, knives, drugs, cellphones, and criminal messages/orders, cannot get in.

    These elements do NO good to the penal system.

    My guess would be GREATLY limeted contact with outsiders, and greater searches of prisoners and outsiders who enter areas in close proximity with prisoners.

    If its found that prison staff is supplying contraband they should spend some time on the other side of the bars.

  3. as i read the BBC report, no gun entered the prison. a cell phone was smuggled in, then a prisoner used it to order a killing that took place outside of prison.

    as for how to prevent this particular sort of thing from happening again, one simple answer: cell phone jammers in the prison grounds. according to the report, this is apparently possible but illegal in the UK for some insane reason or other. one hopes they get that law changed.

  4. It's definitely a culture crime, Bob. You know how I feel about the death penalty preventing further crimes. But what about that business of blocking all the cell phones around the prison. Could it be a security risk in that it would also block out the good guys' phones?

  5. the "good guys" in a prison being guards and such, i'd assume they don't need to depend on cell phones specifically. walkie-talkies or similar short-range radio systems should do well enough for them.

  6. Mike,

    Nomen had it right, the good guys wouldn't need cell phones in the areas the jammers would be set up. So, I would have no problems with a system like that set up but it wouldn't work in the long run in stopping communication to the outside.

    Surprised? Think about it, the system is set up to stop smuggling and still items are smuggled in. The system is set up so they can't communicate to the outside and the still do. One prison I read about the prisoners started using homing pigeons to send messages.

    The best that can be done is an arms race style competition. Trying to stay one step ahead or close the gap each time a new way is found.

    I think one of the biggest problems is the income inequality between some of the criminals and the guards. Drug dealing and gang activities can bring in high dollars. A single bribe for a phone might run into the thousands, small change to some of them, but big bucks for a guard.

    I don't know how that problem can ever be overcome, temptation is a hard thing to resist.

  7. I suppose the problem is that if they would block the use of mobile phones that would automatically block the use of them around the prison. Please do not forget that in England we do live in a densely populated area.

    Apparently this seems to be a universal problem as i googled reports about mobile (cell) phones being seized in Texan, German prisons etc.
    Maybe cell and body searches could be the answer?
    But i suppose if they really want one i think they get it in no matter what

    Btw..Mike, Tom's last post on the issue of citizenship made me think about.. what does that entail for you? Can't be just a passport..?

  8. Another story to add to the list of prohibitions and bans that don't work.

    HOUSTON — Gov. Rick Perry ordered Texas prisons locked down Monday and searched for contraband after death-row inmates made thousands of calls on a smuggled cell phone.

    An inmate's mother was arrested Monday at Austin's airport and accused of buying minutes for the phone, and authorities said more arrests were expected. Perry's office said the cell phone was smuggled into the prison by a bribed corrections officer.

    Authorities learned about the phone after inmate Richard Tabler called a prominent state senator and told him he knew the names of the legislator's daughters and where they lived, said John Moriarty, the prison system's inspector general.

    Tabler shared the phone with nine inmates on his cell block, and prison officials said about 2,800 calls were made on it over the last 30 days.

    Tabler, 29, is on death row for a 2004 shooting spree in central Texas. It was not yet known whether he would be charged or disciplined. A phone call to his trial attorney was not returned.

    Tabler's 60-year-old mother, Lorraine, was being held on a felony charge of providing a prohibited item to an inmate and was waiting for her bond to be set, said Moriarty....