The sentence was increased by the Court of Appeal today after the personal intervention of Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP.
Paul Byrne, 27, was a serving prisoner at HMP Preston. He has 16 previous convictions for 42 offences and at the time of his attack he was serving a sentence of 10 years and 3 months’ imprisonment for offences including robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.
In October 2014, he was transferred to the health care wing. His victim was a nurse who had only recently returned to work in that wing.
Byrne filled a bowl with boiling water, pressed the alarm button in his cell, and when the nurse came to check on his well-being the offender threw the boiling water over her face, neck, arms and body.
The water caused scalding and second degree burns, which have left permanent discolouration to her face, neck, chest, breast and arms. The attack caused his victim profound distress, and led to her having to leave her job at HMP Preston, where she had worked since 2009.
After the attack Byrne was charged with grievous bodily harm with intent, though he claimed to have no recollection of his actions.
In February this year, the Crown Court at Burnley sentenced Byrne to 7 years and 8 months’ imprisonment, with an extended licence period of 4 years.
Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP referred that sentence to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme and today personally presented the case. The Court agreed the original sentence should be replaced with a longer term of 11 years with a 4 year extension, an increase of 3 years 4 months.
Speaking after the hearing, he said:
“Given my previous role as Prisons Minister, attacks against prison staff are something I take extremely seriously which is why I wanted to present the case personally in this matter. Premeditated attacks like that carried out by Byrne against a person serving the public in a difficult job deserve a strong punishment, not least because of the need to set a tough deterrent.
“I am glad that the Court of Appeal has agreed that Byrne should spend longer in prison and I sincerely hope this longer sentence provides some comfort to his victim.”