TERRIFIED inmates, frantically packing their bags, were forced to flee their rooms, seconds before an explosion ripped through their accommodation block, a court heard today (Friday, January 27).
Prisoners caught up in last year’s New Year’s Day riot, at Ford Prison, this morning gave evidence during the trial into the mass mutiny at the site.
One former prisoner, who claims not to have been involved in the disorder, described the explosion as the “most terrifying thing” he had ever experienced, adding that it happened just seconds after he escaped the burning billet he was staying in.
Another inmate giving evidence, who was simply known as witness “J” during the proceedings, told jurors he had been packing his belongings after becoming concerned about the escalating situation.
He said: “I was packing my possessions to make sure they were together.
“I then remember going to my room and by the time I came out, the flames were in my billet.
“I was terrified. I grabbed what I could and made my way to the fire exit door.
“I remember three or four seconds later there was a huge bang, from inside the billet.”
The witness added, upon running outside his prison billet, located in B block, that he could see flames erupting, mere feet away from the billet’s main entrance.
Thomas Regan, 23, Lee Roberts, 41, Ryan Martin 25, Lennie Franklin, 23, Roche Allen, 25, Paul Hadcroft, 25, and Carniel Francis, 25, all deny a charge of prison mutiny.
Six of the men have also pleaded not guilty to a charge of violent disorder, with Regan pleading guilty.
Roberts, Regan, Martin, Franklin, Allen and Hadcroft also deny a further charge of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The proceedings, at the Hove Trial Centre, Hove, are expected to last until March 1.