A double killer from Dundee was jailed for five years yesterday after slashing an inmate at the jail where he was serving a life sentence and wounding a woman prison officer.
Robert Stratton injured Gillian Connor with a vicious homemade weapon as she bravely intervened to halt the attack on the prisoner.
A judge paid tribute to her for her actions in trying to stop the assault on Easdale Campbell at HMP Grampian at Peterhead, in Aberdeenshire, on September 3 last year.
Lord Armstrong said at the High Court in Edinburgh: “In my estimation she deserves the highest praise for the courage displayed by her.”
Stratton, 44, who is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 23 years after murdering a grandmother and killing a man in Dundee, claimed that he attacked Campbell with a toothbrush handle with razor blades melted into it because he branded him a sex offender.
Stratton murdered mother-of-three Julie McCash, 43, and killed David Sorrie, 32, in knife attacks in February 2017 following a vigil among and family friends of 18-year-old Ralph Smith in Dundee’s Drumlanrig Drive.
The teenager fell from cliffs in Arbroath and his body was found in March 2017.
Stratton armed himself with two knives before attacking his victims while he was intoxicated with drink and cocaine.
Of his latest conviction, Lord Armstrong said: “This was a cowardly and senseless attack which was brutal, violent and sustained.”
He told Stratton he would have been jailed for seven and a half years but for his guilty pleas.
The judge was shown footage of the build up to the assault and the attack on Campbell and Ms Connor.
Campbell was being escorted through the jail by two female officers to attend a meeting with a social worker when he became involved in a confrontation with Stratton.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC said: “There was a verbal exchange between them. No physical contact was made nor were threats uttered. The situation was defused by prison officers.”
Campbell was returning under escort about half an hour later when Strattion suddenly burst from his cell and ran at him repeatedly slashing at his head, neck and torso.
Ms Connor made attempts to intervene and was struck on the hand with the weapon as Stratton continued to assault his target.
Campbell began to bleed from head, neck and stomach injuries but managed to get hold of the weapon and other prison officers brought Stratton under control.
Campbell was found to have a 25 cm long wound to his abdomen which was closed with 20 sutures and slash marks on both sides of his neck which were treated with paper stitches.
Ms Connor suffered four wounds to her right hand which were sutured.
Mr Prentice said: “It is expected she will make a full recovery but she will be left with permanent scarring as a result of her injuries.”
The prosecutor said that Campbell’s life was potentially in danger from the attack on him because of the location of the wounds he sustained to his neck and stomach.
Mr Prentice said that when Stratton was interviewed by police he told them that Campbell had called him a “nonce” _ prison slang for a sex offender _ and he felt he had to react to that.
The advocate depute said: “He told the police that he did not mean to hurt Gillian Connor and that he was sorry for what happened to her.”
Defence counsel Thomas Ross QC said: “He is very keen for it to be placed on record he had absolutely no intention to harm the prison officer.” He said the officer acted bravely to protect Campbell from attack.
The defence counsel said that the remark made by Easdale conveyed the suggestion that Stratton was a sex offender and as it was made in the presence of other prisoners posed a danger to him
Mr Ross said that there was no “long term feud” between the men and Stratton has now been transferred to Kilmarnock prison.
Stratton admitted assaulting Campbell to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life by repeatedly striking him on the head and body with the bladed weapon.
He also pled guilty to assaulting the prison officer to her injury and permanent disfigurement by repeatedly striking her hand with the weapon.
Stratton’s earliest release date before today’s court appearance was 2040 but Lord Armstrong said his latest prison sentence should be served consecutively to the 23-year minimum term imposed on him in 2017.