Firefighter finds taste for porridge

Matthew Brace

A firefighter with a penchant for prisons voluntarily checked back in to a London jail after being freed on bail just a few days earlier.

David Watson, 31, seemed so much to enjoy the six days he spent in Brixton Prison, south London, last year, that he did not want to leave.

Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday that just before Christmas, Horseferry Road magistrates found Watson, of Mitcham, Surrey, guilty of threatening behaviour following an incident in a central London nightclub, and sentenced him to 21 days in prison.

But after six days he was released on bail after lodging an appeal against conviction. He then learned he had been suspended by his London Fire Brigade bosses from the job he had done for 10 years.

So he made his way back to Brixton Prison, turning up at the front door and asked the officers to let him in - which they did.

Judge Jeffrey Rucker told the court yesterday that he simply could not understand why Watson should want to knock on the jail's front door for a further spell of bed and board at Her Majesty's pleasure and expressed amazement that the authorities there should actually find him a warm cell in which he could "stow away".

When prison officials realised the firefighter was on bail and that they were holding him illegally, he was quickly escorted to freedom once more.

"Your client would have been in a queue of one trying to get into prison," the judge told defence barrister Abiud Kaihiva.

He added: "I am amazed that they were prepared to take him back in. And I don't think if you or I turned up at the front door of Brixton Prison that we would be admitted for the weekend, and I don't feel like doing it either myself."

The judge was speaking after dismissing the firefighter's appeal against conviction and sentence for using threatening behaviour outside a nightclub last summer.

His decision meant Watson was then taken back to the prison he had so desperately wanted to return to earlier.