Sussex

HMP Ford inmates 'fought as prison burned'

Buildings on fire at Ford open prison
Image caption Several buildings were burnt to the ground during the incident

Inmates fought among themselves as an open prison was torched in a riot, a court has heard.

While some prisoners at Ford Open Prison in West Sussex smashed windows and set fire to buildings, others were trying to save their "home".

But those who tried to put the fires out were called "screws" by those causing the damage on on 1 January 2011, Hove Crown Court heard.

Seven men deny a charge of prison mutiny at the jail in Arundel.

They are Lee Roberts, 41, Thomas Regan, 23, Ryan Martin, 25, Lennie Franklin, 23, Roche Allen, 25, Paul Hadcroft, 25, and Carniel Francis, 25.

The trouble lasted 12 hours before the authorities regained control of the prison.

Shouting and threatening

Prosecutor Ian Acheson said inmates could sense tension in the air over breathalyser tests for alcohol which had taken place in the run-up to the new year.

He said one of the inmates described seeing Mr Allen and Mr Martin shouting and threatening to burn the prison down.

Mr Allen was hitting the window of the B wing office with a fire extinguisher, and Mr Martin and Mr Franklin were trying to lever the window away from the frame with a metal bar.

Image caption The court heard the arson at the prison continued into New Year's Day

They were also lighting pieces of paper and putting them through the window.

Mr Acheson said one inmate picked up a fire extinguisher and joined others in trying to put the blaze out, receiving abuse from other prisoners.

Inmates also heard fellow prisoners smashing up the oast house and the mail room while bricks and stones were thrown against another building.

Mr Regan was seen by other inmates using a mop handle to try to break windows and saying something along the lines of: "We rule the prison, let's break into the office to get out our nicking sheets."

The court heard Mr Roberts was also involved in causing damage and could be heard threatening other prisoners who were trying to put fires out.

Mr Acheson said Mr Hadcroft was seen leaning through the window of the B wing office while trying to start a fire, while Mr Francis was spotted in an office wearing latex gloves and rifling through a brown folder.

Mr Roberts, Mr Martin, Mr Franklin, Mr Allen, Mr Hadcroft and Mr Francis have also pleaded not guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Mr Roberts, Mr Regan, Mr Martin, Mr Franklin, Mr Allen and Mr Hadcroft deny a further charge of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Mr Regan has pleaded guilty to violent disorder and Mr Roberts has pleaded guilty to an offence of arson in the association block.

The trial continues.

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