Northern Ireland news

Hydebank YOC riot caused £8,000 in damage court hears as three men jailed

Hydebank Wood College. Picture by Hugh Russell.

THREE men were sentenced yesterday over their involvement in an "orchestrated'' riot at a south Belfast young offenders centre.

Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard the riot involving up to 30 inmates at Hydebank Wood College lasted for seven hours and the total cost of damage was almost £8,400.

George Wilson (22), of no fixed abode, Lee Sean Bradley (21), of Collon Lane in Derry and Damian Conor Strong (22), of Skegoneill Avenue, Belfast, all pleaded guilty to a single count of riotous assembly.

Wilson was jailed for 11 months with a similar period on supervised licence on his release. He received a further six months in custody for breaching a suspended prison sentence.

Strong was handed a 22-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and Bradley was placed on probation for two years and ordered to carry out 100 hours community service.

Prosecution lawyer David McClean told the court that on March 17 2020, there appeared to be "tensions'' involving several of the inmates.

He told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that at 11.55am the landing was unlocked for lunch and Wilson was seen with a number of inmates and went into the association area "swinging a brush''.

"At 12.08pm, a female prison officer went to the area to talk to the inmates. Strong told her: 'It's because we have been on lock up for two days'.

"Wilson swung the brush, hitting a table and nearly hit the prison officer. As she was leaving the room, another inmate threw a chair in her direction.''

The court heard that as this stage "chaos broke out'' with inmates throwing chairs and tipping over tables.

Prison staff retreated and put on protective clothing and carrying shields came under a barrage of attack.

Mr McClean said inmates barricaded themselves into room for seven hours and the siege was ended when prison dogs were deployed. The cost of the damage was put at £8,344.77p.

Judge Miller said he had reviewed the CCTV of the incident and also footage from staff body warn cameras.

"The scene in this association room was one destruction and carnage,'' remarked the judge.

"There can be no doubt that this was an orchestrated, determined and sustained act of violent disorder. Considerable damage was caused and threats were made.

"In this case the 'justification' claimed was that the defendant's had been in lock down for two days.

"Those involved in this disturbance did so with the intention of causing wanton destruction and disorder. Such activity in a place of lawful detention must be met with condine punishment.''

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