I served with UKs most vile mum in monster jail – but found way to keep sane

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    When Francesca Fattore was sent to HMP Bronzefield for drug offences, she had no idea she would rub shoulders with some of Britain’s most dangerous women.

    The jail opened in 2004 and the country’s first purpose-built female prison once housed Rose West.

    But Francesca, 37 at the time, was surprised with how close she got to evil.

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    Yet this was the chilling reality she faced after being moved to a protected wing during her year-long stay at Bronzefield.

    She reluctantly mixed with adjoining cellmate Mairead Philpott, who became known as the "UK's most hated mum" after being sentenced for manslaughter.

    Philpott was charged for deliberately setting fire to her home where her six kids were killed – but was released in 2020 under a new name having served half of her 17-year sentence.

    Francesca, now 43, also encountered Joanna Dennehy, who was dubbed "Britain’s most dangerous female prisoner" after killing three men. Dennehy remains locked up after getting a life term.

    And speaking exclusively to the Daily Star, Francesca explained how she kept her mind sane while mixing with the notorious lags.

    She said: “I didn’t know about the high risk prisoners before I went and I had never even heard of Joanna Dennehy until I went to prison.

    “My neighbour was the one who killed her kids in the fire too, Mairead.

    “That’s because I got moved to an enhanced wing, it was a real privilege to be on there, you had to have behaved and you had your own shower in your room. It was really good.

    “You had three wings and there were no bars. So in the main prison each wing had four wings but they all had bar gates so you couldn’t mix with the other wings unless you went outside.

    “But on this one it had three without bars so I lived on A wing and I could walk to B and C.

    “I remember being there and the girls were like ‘oh that girl is here for terrorism’ and ‘that old lady used to beat her kids and make them eat dinner off the floor’.

    “Then I was like’ don’t tell me any more’ because I didn’t want to know. This wasn’t who I wanted to be around, I am not that person so I asked not to be told any more.”

    However, after a jittery few days of looking over her shoulder, Francesca then had a change of heart.

    She said: “I decided I needed to know who those people were. I needed to know because then I won’t talk to the people I don’t need to.

    “I would never kick off on the wing because in my head when I went to prison that was it for me, I was going to change so I had to behave.

    “I had to take my feelings aside of what you would want to say, what you’d want to do to somebody and just be a better person.

    “When I learned my next door neighbour was that woman (Mairead) you just start thinking, ‘wow I am in with some crazy, evil, nasty people’.

    “There was another girl called Lucy Wolfe (a nanny who sexually abused a baby) and it is a lot to absorb and to suddenly be living in these wings and having to see these faces every day.

    “Literally you just have to think that if I am spoken to by then then just don’t speak back or keep it as minimum as possible.

    “You have to switch off (from their crimes) because you have no choice.”

    Francesca has transformed her life since being on the inside and she talks about her experiences on her YouTube channel.

    She is also the assistant manager at a car company, a far cry from when she started taking and selling drugs from a young age in Reading.

    And although her life is now unrecognisable, there is one haunting memory about HMP Bronzefield that she will never be able to forget.

    She told us: “The worst thing for me that stood out was the self-harming and the mental health in there for me.

    “Hearing the girls screaming all night long because they are mentally insane.

    “It’s not an act, it’s not someone kicking off, they would scream from nine at night until six in the morning and you can’t do that unless you are mentally ill.

    “Seeing girls coming out having scratched all their own faces up and beating their own faces with flasks…”

    Having served in Bronzefield, the infamous prison where serial baby killer Lucy Letby was sent after her arrest, she also gave an insight into how the nurse will be treated behind bars.

    And to read about her thoughts on the “royal treatment” she could receive, you can do so here.

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