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Murderers at maximum-security prison reveal reality of life behind bars

Some killers have been in the system for so long that they call the prison service 'mum and dad' - while some still maintain their innocence

Murdering 'lifers' at a maximum-security prison have spoken about the reality of their grisly existence behind bars.

There are 200 killers in HM Prison Shotts, Scotland, and Channel 4's latest reality TV show gives viewers a glimpse behind the barbed wire.

In Lifers Behind Bars, men serving a life sentence talk candidly about taking drugs to cope with the stress of prison and how it feels to live in a cell, the Daily Record reports.

Some of them have been in the system for so long that they call the Scottish Prison Service "mum and dad".

Tam, 50, an inmate since he was 20, is now at Castle Huntly, the only open prison in Scotland. As he irons his shirt ready for his release, he vows that he will not be coming back.

Here are some of their stories.

(Image: TV Pic)
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'Watching sheep is good for my soul' - James Smith

His prison job is cleaning the visiting room. He enjoys this because he can look out of the window at the sheep on the hillside. Sometimes he watches the farmer at work. “It’s nature,” he says approvingly to the camera. “It’s good for the soul.”

In 2015, Smith beat his brother-in-law Alexander Cameron to death with a mallet and an axe before tying up the body and burying it in a pile of horse manure on his farm in West Lothian.

Smith, 60, claimed it was self-defence, that Cameron attacked him and threatened to shoot his wife.

He phones his disabled wife twice a day and describes being in prison as like “being dead”.

'I will never admit to killing my flatmate' - James Cullinane

James Cullinane maintains his innocence (Image: TV Pic)
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On the morning of April 15, 2009, Cullinane tells the camera, he woke up without a care in the world. By the end of the day, he was in custody, charged with the murder of his flatmate Stephen Williamson.

Throughout his trial he claimed that a friend, Audrey Hepburn, killed Williamson.

His application for a review has been turned down twice. He still maintains he’s innocent and was counting on Williamson to tell the police what really happened. He died before he could identify his killer.

Cullinane spends his time in his cell, painting. He has not taken the courses that are the first stage of applying for release. Doing this would mean acknowledging that he had committed the crime and showing remorse.

'I'm hooked on Jesus now, not drugs' - Paul Steadward

Paul Steadward robbed his 26-year-old colleague Steven McArdle of his future (Image: TV Pic)

It was the middle of a 12-hour nightshift at Warburtons bakery in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, when an argument about tea breaks spilled out into the car park.

Paul Steadward, then 35, stabbed his 26-year-old colleague Steven McArdle through the heart with what he describes in the show as “a wee steak knife” – in reality 10 inches – after the young dad came back 15 minutes late from a break.

Steadward says he had it in his locker to cut lamb chops he’d brought in for dinner the night before.

He admits taking painkillers, sleeping tablets, heroin and methadone during the early years of his sentence, which began in 2007.

He now spends his time reading religious books and the film shows him in his cell with his Bible. He says his faith brings him hope.

'Talk to my lawyer about pal slaying' - Kieran Davies

Kieran Davies was found covered in blood after Ashley's savage beating (Image: TV Pic)

The unemployed Welshman was living in a flat on Edinburgh’s posh Scotland Street when he was found guilty of murdering his flatmate and best friend earlier this year.

Ashley Hawkins, 32, was found face down in a pool of blood. He had been kicked and beaten all over, including at least 24 blows to his head, probably with a metal pole and a hammer found at the scene.

When the police arrived at the locked flat, Davies, 28, was found there wearing only jogging bottoms and trainers, both soaked with the dead man’s blood.

A psychiatrist told the trial that Davies suffered from a delusional disorder. He maintained his innocence throught the court case.

Even now, he refers questions about the night to his lawyer.

Lifers Behind Bars, Channel 4, tonight, 9pm