News November, 29th 2009 by

Birdman of Swaleside claims breach of human rights

birdmanThe 42-year-old Paul Brown, arrested on the Costa del Sol for the stabbing and murder of a man during a pub struggle, is claiming his human rights have been breached after he was told he couldn’t take his budgie when being transferred to a different jail.

The convicted killer branded prison warders ‘cruel’ after they told him there would be no room for his pet.

Brown, who is serving a life sentence for murder, has made an official complaint ahead of his move from Swaleside Prison in Sheppey, Kent.

He said: ‘I have had my budgie for over five years and any pet owner will tell you how close you become to your animal.

‘To be told you have to abandon it is very distressing, cruel and stressful for both the animal and yourself.’

The con is said to have been inspired to bring a budgie into his cell after watching classic prison drama Birdman of Alcatraz.

Starring Hollywood icon Burt Lancaster, the 1962 movie tells the story of real-life double murderer Robert Stroud who befriends an injured sparrow after finding it in the exercise yard of the notorious island jail.

The killer then becomes a world authority on birds as he serves out the remainder of a 53-year sentence.

An insider at the Cat B jail – which houses 778 inmates with roughly half doing life sentences – said fellow lags have nicknamed Brown ‘The Birdman’ after his movie hero.

The source added that the potential loss of his pet has left Brown ‘devastated’.

‘He’s absolutely gutted,’ the source said. He’s had the little thing for ages and he talks to it all day long.

‘Brown’s a bit of a loner so the budgie has been ideal company for him.

‘He’s devastated at the prospect of losing the little fella – he’s even claimimg his human rights are being infringed.’

The upset con even wrote to prison magazine Inside Time to ask for advice on ‘national policy’ on budgie ownership when transferring between ‘different category’ establishments. It is thought he is due to be downgraded to a Category C jail.

According to prison rules ‘lifers’ are the only category of inmates who are allowed to keep pets. But a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said there were a number of potential factors why he may not be allowed including problems paying vet bills and health and safety.

The spokesman said: ‘The policy is set out in Prison Service Order 1250, Prisoners Property.’

‘Any pet that a prisoner is permitted to keep is entirely at the discretion of the Prison Governor.’

‘Therefore if Mr Brown wishes to take his pet bird with him when he is transferred to a category C prison, he will have to submit a request to the Governor at his next establishment.’

‘It is the case that many Governors do not allow caged birds in the in-cell property list and there are a number of reasons for not allowing them in possession. These include: The health and safety issues for prisoners, birds and staff and the capability of the individual to care for the animal.’ 

Simon Schönbeck

A serial entrepreneur and Founder of this very site.

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