Torturer dies in cell after prison guards waited 14 minutes to call ambulance

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A drugged-up thug who tortured a student in a five-hour robbery died in prison after guards failed to call an ambulance straight away.

Lee Thomas, 37, was jailed for 14 and a half years after taking drugs and boozing on illicit home-brewed alcohol ahead of inflicting "severe psychological harm" on his victim in July 2017, the ECHO reports.

The brute from died only months into his sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire but a new report has uncovered a series of failings during his death on February 2, 2019.

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The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) has slammed an "unacceptable" a delay between the first sign that something was wrong with Thomas and the prison dialling 999.

On the day of his death, Thomas had been locked into his cell at the usual time of 5pm, but at 7.53pm a patrol officer noticed he was slumped in a chair and did not respond when she tried to speak to him.

That prison officer called a colleague for assistance, but neither of them opened the cell and instead radioed for help.

The PPO report noted a period of seven minutes elapsed before an intervention team opened the cell door, where they found he had vomit in his mouth, was not breathing and had a faint pulse.

The team radioed the prison's control room requesting an ambulance, but the operator misheard their request and did not call for one until 8.07pm, when a staff nurse asked again.

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Toxicology reports found Thomas had a dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs, 'psychoactive substances' and alcohol in his system, although the medical cause of his death has not been established.

The court heard how Thomas and another untraced man, named in court as Michael Andrews, bumped into the then 26-year-old victim in Kensington in the early hours of July 15, 2017.

The student had been on a night out but left his home in Elm Vale Road, Fairfield, intending to walk to McDonald's for food when Thomas persuaded him to join a gathering at his flat in Holt Road, Kensington.

However Louise McCloskey, prosecuting, told the court: “Once inside, there was no drinking, there was no conversation, the door was closed, and Lee Thomas put his hood up, produced a metal bar and said to (the victim) ‘you’re going to die now mate’.”

The terrified victim said he had just £30 in his wallet and offered it to his captors, but Thomas said they wanted £1,000 or they would kill him. Thomas and Andrews then stripped him naked, blindfolded him with a T-shirt, tied his hands and punched and hit him with unknown objects.

His wallet, keys and cards were stolen from his clothing, and he was threatened until he gave up his his address. He was also forced to call his cousin asking for money to be transferred into his bank account.

The student, who is black, was carried into another room and thrown on to a bed, where he was subjected to vile racial abuse and told a knife would be “stuck up his a***”.

A short time after his arrival in the flat a third man, then 32-year-old Giovanni Mercuri, arrived at Thomas's flat.

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Despite later claiming to feel “sorry” for the victim, Mercuri agreed to go with Thomas and act as a lookout while Thomas burgled the victim’s house, stealing an iPad and a laptop containing vital work relating to his studies.

The pair then returned to Holt Road and Thomas continued the campaign of terror, which hit new and sinister levels.

Ms McCloskey told the court: “[The victim] recalled having something like oil poured on to his back and the sound of a lighter being flicked with the words ‘lets just burn him and leave him here’.”

Thomas was handed an extended sentence of 14 and a half years in prison, with an additional three and a half years on licence, at Liverpool Crown Court in February 2018 after admitting robbery and burglary.

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