Benjamin Mendy: Inside 'VIP’ prisons with sex, football & PS4s where Man City star thought he was going

FOOTBALLER Benjamin Mendy was shocked after expecting a luxurious stay in prison after confusing HMP Altcourse's VP wing for a 'VIP' wing.

The Manchester City defender's misunderstanding is believed to have stemmed from English not being his first language.

Mendy, 29, was taken to the Liverpool prison on Friday after being charged with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.

This week, a source told The Sun that the footballer had a "rude awakening" when he was heading to the 'VP' – for vulnerable prisoners – wing instead of to “a VIP wing for celebrities”.

The footballer, who denies all of the charges against him, is now housed away from the main prison population.

Though Mendy may not be living luxuriously behind bars, plenty of prisoners do.

Here we reveal the prisons that are more akin to five-star hotels and palaces.

£250 spending sprees

HMP Berwyn in Wrexham was branded the “cushiest jail” in 2019 after claims emerged that prisoners could spend up to £250 a week from their cells.

Items included CDs, DVDs, electronic appliances, clothes, phone credits and groceries through their “spends accounts”.

The Daily Mail reported that the money was accumulated from work in prison, transferred from their personal accounts or sent by friends and family.

The furious public branded it a “holiday camp” and Conservative MP Philip Hollobone thought it was “more Supermarket Sweep than a jail”.

Sports channels, football coaching & a climbing wall

In 2017, it was reported that HMP Parc in Bridgend, Wales, had an incredible range of sports equipment for prisoners.

This included two 3G all-weather football pitches with floodlights that were visited by coaches from Cardiff City FC.

Other facilities reported by the Daily Star included a climbing wall, a tennis court, a gym and a sports hall.

The claims emerged after a furious prison officer slammed lags for “moaning” that it was “a breach of their human rights” to only have access to certain sports channels.

The individual, who was not named, said they “were hacked off” to only be able to watch Sky Sports 1 and not Sky Sports 2 or 3. 

Bake Off competitions & 'royal treatment'

Notorious lag Rose West, who murdered at least 12 women and girls with late husband Fred, was reported to have savoured some fine luxuries too. 

In 2010, a former inmate from HMP Low Newton told The Sunday Mercury that “guards see to it that she gets what she wants”.

They also claimed she considered herself “queen of the wing”, convinced guards to lock her in her cell and to remove prison perks. 

Catherine Jones, who also served time alongside the infamous killer, told The Sunday People that West received “preferential treatment”.

In 2018, she claimed West was “allowed to shower on her own” and could work in “her sewing room”.

The Sun also reported that West was crowned star baker in a 2018 competition inspired by The Great British Bake Off and wooed fellow inmates with baked treats.

PS4 with a flatscreen TV & joints

HMP Altcourse, where Mendy currently resides, hit the headlines in 2017 when photographs of a lag emerged on Facebook. 

The Star reported that the individual was “playing PS4 on the flatscreen TV in his cell” and boasted about “smoking joints that had been smuggled into prison”.

This joined other luxuries from the time including an impressive food menu, gyms, tennis courts and healthcare. 

‘Like a hotel room’

Ronnie Kray was said to have been able to decorate his prison cell “the way he wanted it”, according to Fred Dinenage, the East End gangster’s biographer.

The author claimed he “really had quite a smart room” decked in “all sorts of yellows and purples” and had a “nice dressing table” with photos and ornaments on it.

Dinenage revealed that wasn’t the only luxury afforded to the thug – who remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death in 1995.

This year, he told the Daily Star: “He was allowed a record player in his room. It was very much a Ron room. It felt very much like a hotel bedroom!”

The Kray twin also managed to get a tailor to visit once a year to make him a new suit and convinced one lag to become his personal butler.

Lakeside views

A brand new £253million jail in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, is still in construction but once completed there will be plenty for lags to enjoy.

They include lush views over the nearby fishing river from their bar-less windows, landscaped gardens, a horticultural area and larger prison wings.

The site will be composed of seven X-shaped blocks – rather than the traditional K-shape – and will house up to 1,680 inmates.

Sex twice a week and day trips

Last November, Anne Widdecombe revealed the spoils at Halden Prison, in Norway, which she described as “plush apartments for rapists and murderers”.

Her documentary World’s Most Luxurious Prison shockingly revealed some inmates were allowed sex with their partners up to two times a week at the lock-up.

Lags enjoyed en-suite bathrooms, the use of TVs and a high-end recording studio – and not only that, some inmates were allowed out of prison for up to eight hours on day release

One prisoner remarked: “This is a spa, it’s a holiday resort!” 

‘BBQs, nightclubs & strippers’

Back in 2013, Venezuela’s San Antonio Prison once boasted a swimming pool, overnight accommodation for guests, BBQs and plenty of spots to drink.

Inmate Ricardo, a convicted drug trafficker, claimed it was “not like a prison” at all and was so good many people didn’t want to leave, on SBS Dateline. 

It was also alleged that cons had access to “guns, drugs and everything” and enjoyed a partying lifestyle inside. 

The lock-up, which was located on Margarita Island, also came under fire that year for opening a nightclub that allegedly had DJs, lights and strippers. 

Sunbathing, fishing & horseriding

In a second Norwegian prison, it was reported that rapists and murderers lived out a life of luxury unimaginable to British cons.

In 2019, inmates of Bastoy Prison were reported to savour leisure activities including horse riding, fishing and tennis. 

Lags had the choice of performing tasks on the island for money, educating themselves with courses or lazing around sunbathing.

Arne Kvernvik Nilsen, who managed the lock-up for five years until 2013, told The Guardian that it had a positive effect on prisoners.

It was claimed Norway’s different approach to imprisonment helped “people change” and led to some of the lowest reoffending rates – which at that time was less than 30 per cent. 

Kamasutra sex room & video games

In 2017, Hondurans were shocked when photographs emerged of excessive luxuries enjoyed by some gang members in prison. 

The criminals were found to have had air-conditioned cells, 52-inch flat-screen TVs, computer game consoles and games including FIFA and Grand Theft Auto. 

CEN claimed there was also a ‘Kamasutra’ room, which had been kitted out with mirrors and ambient lighting for sex visits from wives and girlfriends.

It was alleged that those privileges were reserved for thugs who had impressed their gang bosses while in Marco Aurelio Soto prison in Tamara, Honduras.

‘Hotel Escobar’

Infamous Colombian drugs kingpin Pablo Escobar managed to persuade authorities to allow him to build his own prison in 1991.

After years on the run, he agreed to hand himself in as long as he could be contained in his own digs, which he called 'La Catedral – meaning The Cathedral.

Escobar agreed to end his tirade of domestic terrorism in exchange for a five-year prison term, with guards of his own choosing and soldiers outside the fortress to protect him.

From the outside, it looked like any other prison but the luxuries inside led it to earn the nicknames “Club Medellin” and “Hotel Escobar”.

Situated on a mountainous hillside, the lavish lock-up had a jacuzzi, sauna and a pool with a waterfall as well as an industrial kitchen and billiards rooms with big-screen TVs.

It was also claimed Escobar hosted wedding receptions, discos and the Colombian National Team during his ‘imprisonment'.

Viral dance routines

In Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre in the Phillippines, prisoners have a different kind of record to other lags.

This year, they set a world record for having the most inmates dancing simultaneously in one place.

For years, the lock-up has taught prisoners dance routines to hits including Michael Jackson's Thriller and Queen's Radio Gaga.

Many of their performances have gone viral including performing Psy's 2012 hit Gangnam Style.

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