7:40pm Friday 20th January 2012
By Ben Parsons, Crime Reporter
Masked and armed prisoners took control of an open prison in West Sussex within half an hour of turning on staff, a court heard.
The mutiny at Ford Prison, Arundel, saw inmates running amok, looting, smashing and torching buildings and property during the early hours of January 1, 2011, a jury at Hove Crown Court was told.
Lee Roberts, 41, Thomas Regan, 23, Ryan Martin, 25, Lennie Franklin, 23, Roche Allen, 25, Paul Hadcroft, 25, and Carneil Francis, 25, all deny a charge of prison mutiny.
Roberts, Martin, Franklin, Allen, Hadcroft and Francis have also pleaded not guilty to a charge of violent disorder.
Roberts, Regan, Martin, Franklin, Allen and Hadcroft deny a further charge of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Regan has pleaded guilty to violent disorder and Roberts has pleaded guilty to arson of the association block, the court was told.
Resentment Prosecutor Ian Acheson said resentment had grown among inmates over alcohol breath testing which had taken place in the run-up to New Year’s Eve in December 2010.
All five staff made themselves a visible presence as midnight approached, the jury was told.
Mr Acheson said one of the defendants, believed to be Roberts, stepped forward and said: “There are 550 of us. There are five of you. We run the prison, what are you going to do?”
Mr Acheson said the staff “very quickly appreciated that they were very much not wanted and to ensure their safety they would have to withdraw”.
The court was told that although some buildings survived the chaos during the night, the arson continued into the next day.
Fire crews arrived at about 2am on New Year’s Day but the engines were not allowed into the prison until trained riot officers deemed it safe.
The trial was adjourned for the jury to pay a site visit to Ford Open Prison.
The jurors were told they would walk around and be shown parts of the prison relevant to the case.
The case continues.
More news from The Argus
Like us on Facebook
Add us to your circles on Google+
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group