Free climber who scaled Shard says it was worth every second of prison hell
A daredevil jailed for three months after scaling the Shard says it was worth every second – despite witnessing daily horrors behind bars.
George King, 20, shared a cell with violent criminals and saw a string of stabbings and other attacks.
But as he left Pentonville Prison in North London, he told the Sunday Mirror he has no regrets about climbing the 1,016ft Shard which towers over the capital.
George, a free solo climber, said: “My biggest fear in life is regret. We all die, but not everyone lives life before.”
Of his time behind bars, he said: “I had seven cell-mates – drug dealers and gang members.
“I saw stabbings on most days. I saw somebody get kettled, when boiling water was thrown over them.
“Kids were self-harming every day with razor blades.”
George, from Oxford, only ended up in a men’s jail because Feltham Young Offenders Institution was full.
He was 19 when jailed in October after the Shard’s owners brought a civil case against him for breaching an injunction against “persons unknown” entering the building.
Although police were waiting for George at the top they merely escorted him off the premises and took no further action.
George and his parents believe he should have got community service rather than being jailed at huge taxpayer expense.
Guidance says civil prisoners should be kept apart from convicted criminals – yet George found himself among seasoned offenders.
Responding to critics who say his actions, which saw London Bridge station closed briefly, were dangerous, he said: “The police officers who met me at the top said it made their week.
“People go out drinking every weekend and cause violence, they’re the ones who put a strain on the emergency services. I want to inspire people to conquer their goals, follow their passions.”
He prepared for his Shard assent by tackling the world’s largest climbing wall, in the Netherlands, and scaling hundreds of cranes, including one near Wembley Stadium.
He said of his Shard escapade last July: “It wasn’t about the attention, it was the thrill of getting to the top.”
His mum Hilary, 54, who works in property, criticised the decision to jail him. She said: “For five weeks he didn’t have a change of clothes. He wasn’t even supposed to be in there.
“I spoke to the prison chaplain and he said George should never have been on that wing – he was sent down for breaching an injunction, not for a criminal conviction. I have barely slept for three months.”
Hilary has no plans to stop him from pursuing his passions, adding: “He’s so determined, I don’t think we could ever stop him. I’d rather he didn’t, but he knows what he’s doing and he’s very good at it.”
George’s chartered surveyor dad Clive, 58, added: “For so long we didn’t know what he was up to.
“We had an inkling when a grappling hook turned up in the post, but we never anticipated this.”
George, who plans to publish a book and venture into bare-knuckle boxing and BASE jumping, fell foul of an injunction taken out to halt a class equality protest at the Shard in 2018.
He was greeted outside Pentonville by Alain Robert, the so-called Human Spider – also banned from the Shard.
Frenchman Alain, 57, who flew in from Bali, said: “In 2012 the Shard took an injunction out against me just on my reputation.
“Here it is again, now bullying George. It is wrong.”
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