A judge is calling for an urgent review of security in prisons after hearing how an inmate slashed the neck of Soham killer Ian Huntley and then succeeded in murdering another child killer at a different jail.

It was in the healthcare unit of high-security Frankland Prison, Durham, that Huntley was attacked in March last year. The assault by fellow inmate Damien Fowkes left Huntley – who killed 10-year-old schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002 – with an apparently gaping wound that needed 21 stitches.

Fowkes has been sentenced to life in prison for the attempted murder of Huntley and the manslaughter of child-killer Colin Hatch. Fowkes killed the latter after his transfer to Full Sutton Prison near York.

Prisoner admits attacking Soham murderer Ian Huntley

Paedophile disembowelled and killed in Frankland prison

Mr Justice Coulson, who sentenced Fowkes, said: "It is troubling that these two attacks were carried out in two different high-security prisons. I am particularly concerned that the killing of Hatch took place with prison officers outside the cell but apparently powerless to save him."

Fowkes had reportedly barricaded himself into a cell with Hatch and strangled him as prison officers waited helplessly outside.

Justice Coulson added: "Whilst everyone is acutely aware of the costs of monitoring vulnerable and high-risk prisoners, from what I have seen in this case it appears that the management systems currently in place require urgent review."

The judge's comments came as child rapist Mitchell Harrison was killed in Frankland Prison this weekend.

Justice Coulson also said the notoriety of the victims had no bearing on the judgement, and pointed out that the sentence passed down to Fowkes was for both attacks.

Fowkes was originally serving a sentence for armed robbery.