South East Wales

Prison guard accused of GBH 'only officer with working radio'

An HMP Parc sign Image copyright Getty Images

A prison guard accused of fracturing a prisoner's skull was the only officer with a working radio on a high-security wing that day, a court has heard.

Michael Hastie-Davies was injured at HMP Parc in Bridgend in August 2016.

David Potts, 25, of Coity, denies grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent and GBH.

Co-defendant Nathan White, 28, of Maesteg, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault against another prisoner.

The alleged offences happened during an operation in which nine officers carrying shields entered the prison yard to remove Hastie-Davies and two others who had refused to come back inside.

Mr Potts told Newport Crown Court he started working at the prison as a health care assistant before becoming a prison officer.

He said he was immediately assigned to a high-risk unit for prisoners at risk of self-harm, despite most officers requiring two years' experience "on the landings" before working in such an area.

He was then moved to the Phoenix Unit, for prisoners who had caused trouble.

'Tornado shout'

He said: "I thought I had a good relationship with prisoners, obviously I did not get on with everyone like out in the community.

"We would work out the issues and get them back up to the wings as quick as possible."

He told the jury there should have been four officers on duty on the unit, but on the day of the alleged offences, there was only three.

When he reported it, he was told to "manage as best we could".

He said he was with Hastie-Davies and two other inmates on the exercise yard when he heard a "fire indication" on his radio.

He said it was not ideal to leave prisoners on the yard but added: "If the fire wasn't on my wing I would not have responded. I was the only member of the team with a working radio that day."

While dealing with the fire, which another inmate started in his cell, he said he became aware the three prisoners on the yard were refusing to come in.

He said he was told by a senior manager to get his control and restraint kit and, as far as he knew, this was a "proper tornado shout", meaning all other avenues of clearing the yard had failed.

The trial continues.

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