Pentonville Prison guards saved life of convicted murderer on Christmas Day

The mother of a convicted murderer has paid tribute to the heroic prison guards who saved her son’s life after his heart stopped beating on Christmas Day.

Gary Johns, 47, is lucky to be alive after suffering a cardiac arrest as he tucked into Christmas lunch at Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road, Holloway.

He survived thanks to the efforts of two prison officers who immediately performed life-saving CPR before he was rushed to hospital, where he went straight into theatre.

His mother Christine Johns, 66, of nearby Hemingford Road, Barnsbury, said: “He was eating his Christmas lunch when he had what he thought was indigestion – and the next thing he knew, he woke up in hospital.

“His heart stopped beating, but those officers got it going again. He was technically dead, but they brought him back. If it hadn’t been for them, that would have been it.

“They were so good the way they looked after him, they got him out of there and within 30 minutes he was in theatre being operated on.

“The doctors told me his heart stopped beating six times.”

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Mr Johns was convicted of stabbing a man at a nurses’ party in 1993. He absconded from an open prison from 2008 to 2011.

His mother said: “I’m not proud of what he did and nor is he. It happened and he knows he has to pay for it, but he’s still my son.

“You usually hear negative stories about Pentonville, but those officers deserve credit, because without them I would have lost my son.

“The care they gave was unbelievable. I can’t thank them enough and it’s the best Christmas present you could have.”

Mr Johns has since been discharged and returned to the prison.

A prison services spokesman said: “Prison staff administered emergency CPR on an inmate who suffered a cardiac arrest on Christmas day.

“The individual was taken to a local hospital before being discharged on December 27.

“All our staff are trained to act swiftly and effectively in emergency situations.”