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Notorious murderer Daniel Eastwood changes name and asks to live as a woman at male prison

Daniel Eastwood
Daniel Eastwood

A NOTORIOUS killer who strangled his cellmate with shoelaces is living behind bars as a woman.

Daniel Eastwood, 32, has asked bosses at Scotland’s maximum security jail to call him “Sophie” from now on.

But the move has provoked chaos with staff at Shotts prison in Lanarkshire unsure over whether female or male guards should be searching Eastwood during routine checks.

It is understood the killer – previously dubbed Hannibal Lecter Jnr – has not requested gender realignment surgery or a move to Scotland’s only female prison, Cornton Vale in Stirling, as yet.

An insider said: “Eastwood has asked to be called Sophie from now on and has changed appearance.

“Prison staff are concerned about who should be doing the daily ‘rub-downs’, which is when prisoners are searched when they come into another area and can take place several times a day.

“Prison bosses have said it could mean Sophie is shipped out to Cornton Vale if there is a row over whether male or female guards have responsibility for it but the problem won’t go away for staff at Cornton Vale either.

“It’s a safety issue for wardens.”

Eastwood – who has been hospitalised repeatedly for deliberately eating razor blades – has a history of unstable behaviour behind bars and is known for having a hair-trigger temper.

The organisation which represents prison officers admitted it had “concerns” about the implications of the growing number of prisoners who are changing sex.

Phil Fairley of the Prison Officers Association said: “While a small number, more and more prisoners and undergoing gender changes.

“It makes our officers’ jobs more difficult and there have been issues raised by guards who have to do things like searches.

“It has the potential to be misused by people as a way of getting moved jails.”

Last year it was revealed murderer Eastwood, from England, terrified a security guard so much that she quit her job.

The 22-year-old said she resigned following a chilling encounter with Eastwood who told her seemingly impossible-to-know facts about her private life while escorting him to hospital in Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

Essex-born Eastwood told the guard her home address, model of car she drove and even what her dad did for a living.

As well as being accused of using mind games on prison officers, Eastwood has also attacked guards.

In 2008, Eastwood was given 10 months on top of the 15-year minimum-term life sentence for murder.

In a bloody assault, Eastwood attacked officer Mark Brownsmith at Perth Prison.

Perth Sheriff Court heard the unprovoked attack happened while Mr Brownsmith was leading Eastwood to a cell.

Eastwood was originally jailed for dangerous driving and sentenced to 12 months at Dumfries Young Offenders’ Institution.

But during the brief sentence in 2004 he strangled cell-mate Paul Algie, 22, with a pair of shoelaces.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service said recent figures showed there were 15 transgender women and fewer than five transgender men in Scottish jails.

She added: “We do not comment on individual prisoners. In line with our gender identity and gender reassignment policy, the Scottish Prison Service treats individuals according to the gender they choose.

“Individuals are managed in line with the policy and regular case conferences are held to ensure that they are fully supported.

“Risk assessments help to determine how individuals are managed and decisions can be reviewed at monthly case conferences.

“The safety and security of those who live and work in prisons is a priority for the SPS and, as such, our policy also recognises that there may be times when, for reasons of safety and risk management, decisions must be taken which differ from the individual’s gender identity or gender reassignment.”

 

Transitioning in custody is a very slow process

James Morton

By James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance

For over a decade, the Scottish Trans Alliance has been working closely with the Scottish Prison Service and Violence Against Women organisations to ensure progress on transgender equality is never at the expense of women’s safety.

One of our Scottish Trans Alliance staff has more than 20 years’ experience as a prison officer so we’re not naive about the complexities involved in managing trans people in custody.

Comprehensive individualised risk assessment rightly forms the core of Scottish Prison Service decision-making about transgender prisoners.

Transitioning in custody is a very slow process where even a request for different clothes requires a risk assessment and case conference.

Searching and housing decisions are made extremely carefully and the safety of all prisoners and staff is the highest priority.

Searches are a stressful part of a prison officer’s job but staff are never on their own and have the power to place the prisoner on report for any inappropriate behaviour.

Most trans women in custody are safely held in single cells in the female estate, where they are closely monitored and shower separately.

However, if necessary to manage risk, a trans woman could be held in the male estate even if she has received legal gender recognition.

Since 2010, the majority of trans women in Scottish Prison Service custody have been held in the female estate and none have harmed female prisoners.