NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Prison officer tells of alcohol find at HMP Grampian after 'riot'

Emergency services at HMP Grampian

Containers of homemade alcohol were found in a newly-opened jail extensively damaged in an alleged riot, a court has heard.

Prison officers at HMP Grampian in Peterhead had earlier feared trouble after smelling "hooch" during a patrol.

Six men deny conducting themselves in a "violent, riotous and tumultuous" manner and forming a mob of "evilly disposed persons".

The incident at the jail is alleged to have happened in May 2014.

On trial are Robert Gill, 26, from Newburgh in Aberdeenshire, Stephen Sim, 31, from Stonehaven, Michael Stewart, 31, from Forfar, 30-year-old Dominic Jordan, from Wirral in Merseyside, Sandy Mundie, 30, from Aberdeen, and 33-year-old George Thomson, also from Aberdeen.

They are said to have acted aggressively with their faces masked while brandishing sticks and metal poles.

The men are said to have culpable and recklessly thrown the objects from a height with no consideration of the consequences of where the objects would land or whether they would strike anyone.

Prison officer Jordan Hodge told Aberdeen Sheriff Court that before the alleged riot there had been "general unrest" after some prisoners were placed in isolation following a disturbance.

'Unfairly treated'

He said other inmates were aware of the situation and they believed the prisoners had been unfairly treated.

Mr Hodge said he returned to work the following day and initially did not note anything unusual about the mood of the prisoners.

But he told the jury that there was "quite a lot of hilarity" when he entered the C Section at the jail during the recreational period that night.

Fiscal depute David Bernard asked: "I understand you noticed a smell of hooch or homemade alcohol?"

Mr Hodge replied: "Yes, I did."

Mr Bernard asked: "Homemade alcohol or hooch, is that something prisoners are permitted to have?"

Mr Hodge replied: "No."

The prison officer said he noticed that inmates had congregated in the left-hand side of the unit and there was music playing.

Staff evacuated

The court heard that prison staff were evacuated from C Section of the Ellon Hall unit at 19:45 after another prisoner began shouting and swearing at staff.

The fire alarm was activated and firefighters called in after smoke was detected.

Three CCTV cameras were smashed with a wooden beam from a pool table by a separate prisoner, John Keand, who has since pled guilty to his involvement in the incident. Trained negotiators were then called in.

In a joint minute read out to the jury, it emerged that the incident came to an end after prison officers stormed the cell block in riot gear at about 10:15 the following day.

The document stated: "Each of the 34 cells within Ellon Hall, level 2, C Section was affected in some way.

"A few were minimally affected such as having writing on the walls, whilst other cells were significantly affected including extensive damage to various fixtures and fittings.

"A quantity of homemade alcohol, in a variety of containers, was found in C Section."

The trial continues.

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