Ford prison jury still considering verdicts

A jury has retired for a fourth day to consider verdicts in the trial of six prisoners accused of taking part in a prison mutiny at Ford Open Prison.

Masked inmates smashed and torched buildings, causing more than £5 million damage and putting people’s lives at risk at the jail, after the authorities lost control for more than 12 hours on New Year’s Day last year, a jury at Hove Trial Centre has been told.

Tension had been building before the violence broke out over the breath-testing of prisoners, leading to the five staff in charge at the time being overpowered, the five-week trial has heard.

Riot police and specialist prison officers were drafted in to help restore control at the Category D prison.

Lee Roberts, 41, Thomas Reegan, 23, Rian Martin, 25, Lennie Franklin, 23, Roche Allen, 25, and Carniel Francis, 25, all deny a charge of prison mutiny.

Five of the men have also pleaded not guilty to a charge of violent disorder. Reegan has pleaded guilty to the charge.

Roberts, Reegan, Martin, Franklin and Allen also deny a further charge of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Roberts has pleaded guilty to a simple charge of arson, but this is not accepted by the prosecution.

The jury retired on February 27.