Northern Ireland news

Four sentenced for youth detention centre riot

Hydebank Young Offenders Centre

Four men have been sentenced for their involvement in a seven-hour riot at Hydebank Wood young offenders centre which erupted on St Patrick's Day.

Bradley Hamilton (22) and 23-year old Dale Lewis were both handed 22-month sentences which were divided equally between prison and licence, while Darren McGeown (20) was placed under two years Probation.

The fourth defendant, 21-year old Ryan Stirling, had a combination order imposed, consisting of 60 hours community service and two years Probation.

Three other men involved in the riot have already been sentenced, while another co-accused is awaiting sentence.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard the riot broke out in the south Belfast Young Offenders Centre on March 17, 2020 after inmates complained they had been locked down for two days.

Following tensions between inmates and staff, the situation deteriorated. A chair was then thrown at a member of staff in the association area which resulted in the outbreak of a riot.

Butter was placed on the CCTV camera lens, a microwave was thrown at a window, legs were broken off chairs and used to smash windows while the door was barricaded by a sofa.

Prison staff retreated, put on personal protective equipment and when they returned to the association area they had a buckets of urine and boiling water thrown at them and were also pelted with metal pipes, a radiator and other items.

The eight inmates barricaded themselves into the area for around seven hours and caused damage amounting to £8,344. The incident was finally brought under control when dogs were deployed.

Judge Miller said: "I have viewed the body-worn footage of the aftermath, together with footage of some of the events.

"There can be no doubt that this was an orchestrated, determined and sustained act of violent disorder. Considerable damage was caused and threats of serious injury made over a period extending to seven hours."

The Judge said that while he was treating the case as a 'joint enterprise', he had also considered the personal circumstances of each of the four defendants.

Hamilton, from Birch Crescent in Ballyhalbert, has 96 previous convictions, and is considered by Probation as posing a high risk of re-offending.

Dale Lewis, of no fixed abode, has nine previous convictions which are linked to substance abuse and peer pressure.

McGeown, from Mountforde Drive in Belfast, has complex mental health issues which Judge Miller said had contributed to "an alternative sentence to custody."

Stirling, from James Street in Ballymena, came from a troubled background, has 51 offences on his criminal record - but is now displaying what the Judge described as a more mature outlook.

While Hamilton and Lewis were jailed, Stirling and McGeown were warned that any breaches of their orders would result in them being brought back to court and handed "immediate custodial sentences."


Northern Ireland news