heroin
Heroin being prepared for injectionGetty

Three murderers in high-security Shotts prison, Lanarkshire, Scotland, have died during the past three weeks, due to what is believed to be contaminated heroin. Prison managers are investigating links between the deaths and have requested toxicology reports.

Prison managers are investigating links between the deaths and have requested toxicology reports.

Shotts is a maximum security prison for men who have sentences of four years or more. Currently, it houses more than 500 prisoners.

The first prisoner was discovered dead on 20 November. Joseph Kearinsm, 25, was a father-of-two from Glasgow who was serving eight years for culpable homicide after stabbing a friend in Shettleston, Glasgow, in October 2012 .

The second death was Jamie Nicol. Nicol was sentenced to a minimum tariff of 18 years for murder, after killing a labourer during a brawl in Moray, Scotland in June 2010. His victim was a father-of-six.

The final fatality came last week when Alex Robb, 44, was found dead in his cell. Robb was jailed in 2000 for participating in a murder during which the victim's neck was sawn with a bread knife.

The Scottish Sunday Post reports that according to a source: "While not many people will be sorry these guys have gone, prison bosses will be tearing their hair out about how these drugs get into jails."

Last month the prison's former governor, Ian Whitehead, acknowledged that stopping drugs being smuggled into prisons appears to be impossible. Since 2011 inmates in Scottish prisons have been apprehended with more than 67,000 pills, more than 10 kilograms of cannabis and more than 2 kilos of heroin.

Since 2011 inmates in Scottish prisons have been apprehended with more than 67,000 pills, more than 10kg of cannabis, and more than 2kg of heroin.

This is not the first occasion on which prisoners have been poisoned by drugs.

During 2012, four inmates at Forest Bank Prison in Manchester were taken to hospital after taking contaminated tranquillisers. In 2001, two inmates in Gloucester were also hospitalised after injecting contaminated heroin.

A Scottish Police spokesperson said that none of the current deaths are being treated as suspicious.