Lewes Prison riot inmate 'threatened to gouge out eyes'

Lewes Prison
Image caption The five men are charged in relation to a disorder at Lewes Prison in October 2016

A prisoner threatened to gouge out the eyes of guards with a pool cue during a cell block riot, a court has heard.

Ross Macpherson had been lying on a pool table when recreation time ended in C Wing at Lewes Prison, East Sussex, on 29 October 2016.

Hove Crown Court heard he refused to hand back the cue and return to his cell, as the incident escalated.

Macpherson, 28, currently at HMP Belmarsh, and four other men have denied prison mutiny.

Jurors were shown footage illustrating "very extensive" damage to the three-storey wing after five unsupervised prisoners went on the rampage for six hours, between 10:00 and 16:00 GMT.

Prison guards, fearing for their own safety, were forced to retreat from the wing and wait for the arrival of specialist police officers, prosecutor Kris Berlevy said.

The four other men accused of prison mutiny are:

Steven Goodwin, 29, of Fairlight Road, Hastings, Shane Simpson, 30, of Arundel Road, Totton, Southampton, John Udy, 38, of Leominster Road, Portsmouth, David Carlin, 26, of Tuxford Road, Kirton, Nottinghamshire.

Opening the trial for the prosecution, Mr Berlevy said Macpherson and Goodwin started the incident but the others were complicit.

He said: "Macpherson refused to hand back a pool cue and told an officer, 'If I give it back to you, I'll be hitting you around the head with it'.

"The atmosphere was becoming heated. The officers found the defendants aggressive and volatile."

He said Macpherson began "waving the pool cue around and banging it against the floor" while Simpson, who was on crutches, waved them around aggressively.

Macpherson told officers he would "gouge their eyes out" with the pool cue, Mr Berlevy said.

Wing 'uninhabitable'

When a senior prison officer tried to negotiate with Goodwin, he replied: "Unless you're going to unlock everyone [in the wing] don't even bother speaking to us," the court heard.

Then he grabbed a table leg and began "smashing almost anything around him".

Jurors were told the defendants had gone on to "destroy whatever they could" leaving the wing "unusable and uninhabitable".

Goodwin was spotted smashing "every single light fitting on the wing", swinging a large metal chain around and breaking glass panels in the communal showers with a fire extinguisher, while prisoners were told to flood their cells and fire extinguishers were set off, Mr Berlevy added.

The jury was told it will have the chance to consider counter charges of violent disorder and criminal damage against all the defendants as an alternative to the five separate counts of prison mutiny.

The trial continues.

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