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An inmate who hurled urine at a prison guard is now serving an even longer sentence after a dogged detective decided to prosecute him for using ‘poison’ under a rarely-used law from 1861. Michael Raheem, 22, was on remand for robbery at HMP Belmarsh when he sprayed the officer with a shower gel bottle containing a yellow liquid. He was quickly restrained by other jailers and the bottle kept as evidence following the incident on October 6, 2018. Similar crimes are usually prosecuted as common assault – an offence carrying a maximum sentence of six months in prison. However, the detective overseeing the case, DC Natalie Ford, instead pressed for Raheem to be charged with ‘administering a poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy’ under Section 24 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The older law carries a maximum sentence of two years, but requires proof a ‘noxious substance’ has been used.

Scotland Yard said it usually only tests urine for the presence of other substances, such as alcohol or drugs. None had previously been conducted by the Met to actually prove a sample itself was urine. So they summoned an outside forensics firm to examine the liquid in the shower gel bottle and carry out the necessary tests to satisfy the legislation.