Homemade alcohol found on HMP Grampian wing after ‘riot’

Police attending a disturbance at HMP Grampian in Peterhead in May 2014. Picture: Hemedia
Police attending a disturbance at HMP Grampian in Peterhead in May 2014. Picture: Hemedia
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Containers of homemade alcohol were found in a newly opened jail extensively damaged following an alleged riot, a court heard today.

Staff at HMP Grampian feared there would be trouble after prison officers smelled ‘hooch’ during a patrol of the Peterhead prison in May 2014.

Prison officer Jordan Hodge gave evidence at the trial of six men accused of being involved in the disturbance at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday.

Robert Gill, 26, of Newburgh, Stephen Sim, 31, of Stonehaven, Michael Stewart, 31, of Forfar, and 30-year-old Dominic Jordan, of The Wirral, in Merseyside, are all accused of forming part of the mob involved in the riot.

Sandy Mundie, 30, and 33-year-old George Thomson, both of Aberdeen, are also claimed to have been involved in the violent incident.

Yesterday Mr Hodge told the jury that there has been a lot of tension between inmates and prison staff the previous day after a member of staff was threatened in an unrelated incident.

Jordan Hodge, 23, said there was “general unrest” after five other prisoners were placed in isolation following a disturbance at HMP Grampian on May 12, 2014.

Other inmates were aware of the situation and he said they believed that 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 at that there was “quite a lot of hilarity” when he entered the C Section 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.”

• READ MORE: Inmates spending 23 hours a day in cells at £140m prison

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.

The court heard that prison staff were evacuated from Section C of the Ellon Hall unit at 7:45pm 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 involving in the incident and trained negotiators were 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 10:15am the following day.

The document stated: “Each of the thirty-four 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 six men are accused of conducting themselves in a “violent, riotous and tumultuous” manner to the terror and alarm of the people in the prison.

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

Court papers also state that the men allegedly wilfully or recklessly destroyed and damaged property there, breaking panels of glass, windows and furniture and kicking over a water fountain.

Pool balls are said to have been thrown along with buckets, bottles and a TV, with some objects thrown out of a window.

The men deny the charge against them.

The trial continues on Wednesday.