Five found guilty over Ford Prison disturbance

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AFTER an eight week trial at Hove Crown Court into the mass disturbance at HMP Ford on January 1 2011 five men have been found guilty for a variety of offences including arson being reckless as to whether life endangered, violent disorder and prison mutiny.

Roche Allen, 25, from Cardiff, has been sentenced to seven years for prison mutiny and four years for violent disorder to run concurrent.

Lenny Franklin, 23, from London, has been sentenced to seven years for prison mutiny and four years for violent disorder to run concurrent.

Thomas Regan, 23, from Northampton, was sentenced to seven years for prison mutiny and three years and nine months for violent disorder to run concurrent.

Lee Roberts, 41, from HMP Lewell, found guilty of violent disorder and arson reckless as to whether life endangered has had his sentence adjourned for a month for reports.

Carniel Francis, 25, of London, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half-years for violent disorder.

Judge Lawson, who spoke at length acknowledging the hard work of all those involved in bringing this case to trial. told the court that “anarchy reigned” the day of the disturbance.

He said that there was “total anarchy for 12 hours throughout the prison.” He added that the men were rampaging through the prison causing many of the residents and staff to be utterly terrified for their lives. The men had made a “total mockery of any prison etiquette.”

Detective Chief Inspector Pierre Serra who lead the investigation said: “This has been a complex and challenging investigation, involving over 40 Sussex Police officers and taking over a year from start to verdict. It is certainly one of the largest investigations I have worked on in the last 18 years and even more rewarding by virtue of today’s verdict.

“The success of this investigation into five million pounds worth of criminal damage at Ford Prison would not have been possible without the valuable partnership work from the outset from our colleagues at the Ministry of Justice, the Crown Prosecution Service and especially to Her Majesty’s Prison service. Both I and my team of officers are very grateful to all of these organisations and especially to Her Majesty’s Prison service.

“From very early on we had to work at a fast pace to secure enough evidence to make arrests and identify suspects on what was a dark, rainy and confusing night of mass disturbance. A number of prisoners including our main suspects had to be moved to prisons all over the UK, with the added complication that many were due for release over the coming weeks back into local communities around the country.

“Our most significant witnesses were serving prisoners, who have shown immense courage by coming forward in the first instance and subsequently attending court here at Hove.

“I would like to thank all of our witnesses including the prison staff who were on duty that night and also all the witness care officers who have worked tirelessly with these people to help bring these offenders to justice.”

“The incident at Ford Prison, had a huge impact on the local community and Sussex Police is very grateful for their patience and understanding particularly in those first few days when the prison and surrounding area was inundated with police, fire fighters and both local and national media.”

Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said: “This is a good outcome after the shocking and violent rioting at HMP Ford on 1 January 2011.

“I visited the prison the day after the disturbance and was appalled at the wanton damage and destruction I saw; these tough sentences reflect the seriousness with which society rightly views such actions.

“The convictions are to the credit of the Prison Service, Sussex police and the Crown Prosecution Service who worked closely to ensure that these offenders were held to account for their criminal behaviour during the rioting.”

Several fires and criminal damage were reported at HMP Ford, in the early hours of New Years Day 2011. A large gym complex and post room was burnt to the ground but fortunately no one was injured. East Sussex Fire and Rescue worked throughout the night and the following day to bring the fires under control.

CPS Reviewing lawyer Simon Ringrose said: “This case could not have been prosecuted without the support and evidence from witnesses who were inmates at the time. The fact that these men were prepared to give evidence demonstrates the seriousness of this incident and I would like to recognize their courage in coming forward. The prosecution team also received the total support of HM Prison Service in putting this case together and this assistance was crucial in ensuring that all relevant evidence was gathered and presented to the court.

“People can be reassured that incidents of this kind are viewed with the utmost seriousness and where there is sufficient evidence the public interest will almost inevitably require a prosecution.”

Ryan Martin, 24, of Eastbourne, and Paul Hadcroft, 25, from Bognor Regis, were acquitted for arson being reckless as to whether life endangered, violent disorder and prison mutiny.