Jenny Swift

Jenny / Jonathan Swift, a violent male who identifies as a trans woman, was remanded into custody at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court in November 2016, charged with the attempted murder of 26-year old Eric Flanagan. Swift, 49, a former soldier from Merseyside, was also charged with criminal damage. 

Mr Flanagan was stabbed numerous times to the face, chest and right arm before being attacked with a broken shovel during a sustained and “frenzied attack” on 15 November 2016. A paramedic who attended the scene described it as “the worst stabbing I’ve seen during my time with the ambulance service”.

Following Mr Flanagan’s death the Crown Prosecution Service authorised that Swift’s charge be updated to murder. However, the defendant was found dead in a cell at men’s Category B prison HMP Doncaster in December 2016, before being formally charged with murder. Swift was reportedly taking hormones obtained without a prescription or under the supervision of a doctor, and had consumed alcohol and crack cocaine on the day Mr Flanagan was killed.

An inquest into Mr Flanagan’s death in October 2017 ruled that he was unlawfully killed. While in custody Swift made a number of comments, including having “no remorse” for killing Mr Flanagan, the father of two young children.

In documentation used by the police, crown prosecution service and the coroners’ court, Swift is referred to as Jonathan, which was the defendant’s registered name. This indicates the offence should be counted among male crime statistics rather than female, unlike the murder committed by Claire Darbyshire in 2016 or the attempted murder committed by Lauren Jeska which will both have been added to female crime statistics as they were listed as being perpetrated by a “female” person in court documentation.

As with all deaths in custody, there will be an independent investigation into Swift’s death by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. An inquest was opened in January 2017 and the jury returned a verdict of misadventure in December 2017.

A fellow trans prisoner, Paris Clarke, told the inquest four trans prisoners at HMP Doncaster had made a suicide pact but pulled out of it before Swift’s death. They had complained about ‘bullying’ by guards at the Serco-run private prison and another prisoner, John Parton gave a written statement, saying: “The guards used to treat her well but one or two used to call her fella, which would piss her off big time. She used to shout off the balcony: I’m Jenny Swift, not Jonathan.”

[This post was updated in early 2018 to include the inquest verdict.]


The Prisons & Probation Ombudsman report on the death of the prisoner was published in April 2019. In it, Swift’s behaviour on remand is repeatedly described as volatile and threatening, including repeated racist abuse of healthcare professionals, and a transgender case review board had insufficient information to consider a transfer to a women’s prison.

Photo via Liverpool Echo

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