The dramatic moment a female inmate takes a fellow prisoner hostage after she was refused a visit with her children on family day is caught on camera, on tonight’s Inside Prison: Britain Behind Bars.
Colette O’Flaherty, 29, is serving a 19-month sentence At HMP Downview women’s prison in Sutton, Greater London, for smashing a wine bottle over a love rival’s head.
Appearing on the ITV series tonight, the mother appears calm as she reveals she has become a bookworm in an effort to keep her head down and serve her sentence as quickly and quietly as possible.
But the repeat offender goes back on her good intentions just weeks before her release date, when she sparks a prison wide alert after taking her fellow inmate hostage at knife point because she was refused a family visit with her children.
Colette is seen excitedly filling out an application form to see her children on a special family day the prison have organised.
However out of 300 inmates only 50 will get a place, and as Colette isn’t among those with longer sentences, she is denied the visit.
Becoming frustrated she is seen trying to phone her children, and when she is unable to get through, and storms back to her cell.
Distraught, she takes a fellow prisoner hostage at knife point, and armed officers are seen storming her cell as she is heard screaming dramatically.
Colette is removed from the cell and put in the segregation unit.
Describing the incident the next day, she says: ‘I kept my friend hostage at knife point.
‘I said to her when I went in there “look I love you and I’m very sorry about this just go with it”.
‘She was like: ‘What do you mean’, then I pulled out the blade’.
Colette is called in front of the head prison guard to review her case, and explains: ‘Yesterday was quite a blur for me. I’ve been deteriorating for the last few weeks and yesterday it just got too much.’
She then shows self harm wounds explaining it was the only thing she felt she could do.
Two thirds of prisoners self harm while inside with females four times more likely.
However it’s a happy ending for Colette, who is later christened after ‘finding god’.
She says: ‘I come from an Irish religious family and I feel safe now. It’s been a real learning curve and realising the ripple effect it can have on my children and I won’t be back here’.
After 19 months she is released and admits she ‘feels a new woman’ as she is met by her partner at the gates.
But elsewhere things aren’t as smooth, as prison officer Kim Newman is knocked unconscious on ‘black eye Friday’ in dispute over canteen allowance.
Friday means canteen day at HMP Bullingdon – where prisoners are delivered small treats like chocolate and shower gel which they buy with money earned from their jail jobs or sent in by friends and family outside.
The only problem is, behind bars goods become much more valuable than they are on the outside, which can lead to debts – and payback.
Things turn serious when prison officer Kim takes a blow to the head trying to restrain a prisoner who becomes violent.
As she rushes to his cell to restrain him, she is knocked out, and seen being wheeled out to hospital after regaining consciousness.
Returning two weeks later she says: I really enjoy my work no angry man is keeping me away. Walking back through the doors make me a bit nervous but I’m here to do a job.
Inside Prison: Britain Behind Bars airs on ITV at 9pm tonight,