'I spent my 21st in jail' - Student Harry Middleton cleared of attempted murder on his time behind bars on remand

Harry Middleton, 21, of Havant, was cleared of attempted murder at Portsmouth Crown Court in what he told jurors was a failed suicide attempt in front of his former girlfriend. Picture: Ben Fishwick
Harry Middleton, 21, of Havant, was cleared of attempted murder at Portsmouth Crown Court in what he told jurors was a failed suicide attempt in front of his former girlfriend. Picture: Ben Fishwick
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HARRY Middleton spent his 21st birthday behind bars.

While most of his friends would be celebrating their milestone birthdays, he was stuck in a cell.

Harry Middleton, 21, of Havant, was cleared of attempted murder at Portsmouth Crown Court in what he told jurors was a failed suicide attempt in front of his former girlfriend. 'Picture: Ben Fishwick

Harry Middleton, 21, of Havant, was cleared of attempted murder at Portsmouth Crown Court in what he told jurors was a failed suicide attempt in front of his former girlfriend. 'Picture: Ben Fishwick

Harry said: ‘The first couple of months were horrifying because your hear stuff about what condition prisons are in.

‘I was absolutely terrified. I wouldn’t leave my cell - I was too scared to do anything. I ended up losing most of my weight, I was just so isolated.

‘I went to Lewes to start with - I was there for about four months. I actually started to settle in the work, you get to know people in there. It’s completely different to what you think. There’s genuinely innocent people in there.

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‘The first time I got moved to High Down I got woken up at six in the morning and told: “You’re going to court”.

‘I went down there, my barrister organised for me to take to her, after that they told me “you’re going to High Down”. They told me “(your stuff has) gone now”.

‘I got moved to High Down with nothing. So that was it. All my prison clothing.

‘As you stay there for longer you get to know people, you get bedding for your room. I was comfortable, in a way, then I being moved it started again - it was horrible.’

Among the bleakest moments was turning 21 on April 13. ‘Every day for me was the same,’ said Harry who was described in court as ‘a gentle, timid guy’.

‘My family came up and visited on Saturday. They brought a little birthday cake. At the same time it was depressing spending time in prison for something I hadn’t done.’

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But the threat of violence was ever-present on the wings.

Harry said: ‘In the first prison I was in Lewes, it was a fairly quiet prison. I got to know a few people. It wasn’t until I went to High Down I was more scared because I started sharing a cell with people.

‘I had quite a few cellmates. I had one person who was in for a murder. It’s really odd

‘I witnessed a few disturbances, and violence and fights. I used to get food outside the wing - you can see when there’s a gang of people waiting for someone.’

Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said: ‘Remand always means the loss of someone’s liberty, sometimes for a significant length of time.

‘It can also result in the loss of a home, job and family ties.

‘For the substantial number of people each year who are remanded and subsequently acquitted, the impact can be devastating.

‘And yet they are not entitled to any support on release to repair the damage custody has caused.’