Birmingham Prison Rioters Given Sentences

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Luke Mansell and John Burton

Prison inmates who instigated a 15-hour riot which caused more than £6 million damage to Birmingham’s Winson Green prison have been jailed for up to nine years.

Luke Mansell, 24, and John Burton, 39, were found guilty last week of a prison mutiny which caused “destruction on a grand scale”, and saw more than 500 prisoners let out of their cells after inmates seized keys.

In addition, three others, Ross Wilkinson, 24; Robert Smith, 34, and Nathan Weston, 23, all admitted the same charge before a Birmingham Crown Court trial.

Ross Wilkinson, Robert Smith and Nathan Weston

Order was only restored to the incident, which took place on December 16th last year, at the G4S-run jail after hundreds of specially-trained “Tornado” team prison officers were drafted in to quell the disturbances.

Upon sentencing, Judge Melbourne Inman QC told the men, “You were unquestionably the ring-leaders and instigators of the mutiny.

“The destruction you few caused and the hostility showed was replicated by the other hundreds of prisoners.

“It was your direct action in allowing you to get hold of the keys, enabled the release of all the other prisoners on the wings.”

He added that there had been “graphic evidence” of the violence faced by prison officers which had “a profound impact” on staff.

The judge said “there had been destruction on a grand scale” leaving the jail’s wings “uninhabitable”.

He added that “a clear message had to be given to anyone considering this type of action”.

Burton, who had a lengthy record of 89 offences, was jailed for nine years, along with Mansell.

Mansell, on remand at the time of the riot, was convicted in February 2017 of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, for an “unpalatable” offence in which the victim was tied to a chair, had his penis branded with hair straighteners, was forced to eat faeces, and had a front tooth pulled out with pliers.

The trio of Wilkinson, a convicted burglar; Weston, jailed for arson, and Smith, with 25 previous convictions, were each jailed for six years.

A sixth defendant, 30-year-old Grant Samed, will be sentenced in November.

Trouble first flared when the prisoners jumped on “suicide netting” on the landing of the prison’s N wing.

Threats to take hostages were made, with Smith saying to an officer “fancy some compensation, guv?” while Wilkinson threatened he “had a syringe”.

Smith then snatched a set of keys from a prison officer who was distracted.

A rapid evacuation of the wing followed this with prison guards being ordered: “Get out! They’ve got the keys,” whilst the men unlocked fellow prisoners.

Prosecutor Raj Punia said at one stage just a single secured external gate leading to the main gatehouse stood between the inmates and a possible jail-break.

The barrister added “officers got to the gate just in time”.

The impact on the jail’s staff had been “harrowing”, with one officer stating “I keep thinking about what would have happened if we hadn’t got out”.

Two other men; 33 -year-old Carl Brookes, and 30-year-old Ross Queen will be sentenced on Tuesday for taking an unauthorised photo in the prison during the riot.

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