South East Wales

Bridgend prison officers not guilty of assaulting inmates

An HMP Parc sign Image copyright Getty Images

Two prison officers accused of injuring inmates by hitting them with their shields have been found not guilty.

Prisoner Michael Hastie-Davies was injured at HMP Parc in Bridgend during a yard clearance in August 2016.

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

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

They were acquitted by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court following a two-week trial.

The incident took place on the prison's Phoenix Unit after Hastie-Davies, who suffered a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain in the incident, and two other inmates refused to come in from the exercise yard.

Mr Potts, 25, of Coity, Bridgend, and Mr White, 28, of Maesteg, were part of a team of nine prison officers in protective clothing who went on to the yard to take them back to their cells.

Mr White told police he struck Madden to try to get him to open his hands in case he had a concealed weapon, the court had heard.

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Jurors were told about a "catastrophic" failure of management leading up to and during the yard clearance that increased the risk of injury for all involved.

HMP Parc prison officer James Bibby watched CCTV of the incident and wrote a report on it.

Darren Preston, defending Mr Potts, said there was always a risk of injury to prisoners or prison officers in an operation such as this, whether by action or accident, and Mr Bibby agreed.

Mr Preston said to him: "I think your concern was that the failures that we have identified of management, whilst we can't say they caused anyone injury, they increased the risk."

Mr Bibby said: "Yes, they increased the risk for all involved."

He said the briefing before a control and restraint operation was important and the one on that day did not include enough information.

Mr Preston said: "Would you agree that what you found [in your review] was that there was a catastrophic lack of management?"

Mr Bibby replied: "Like I have pointed out, procedures were not followed and that is correct."

The court heard procedures not followed included a command centre not being set up and negotiators not being brought in to try to resolve the situation with the inmates.

Mr Bibby also said no written plan was compiled, no commanders were appointed to take charge of the action, only one of the required three nurses was present and two of the nine officers did not have the proper training.

He also criticised the fact that the control and restraint on Hastie-Davies was allowed to continue after his injury was noticed.

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