Inmate cleared over prison riot


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The Independent Online

A jury was ordered today to find one of the defendants involved in a prison mutiny trial not guilty on all charges.

Judge Michael Lawson QC told the jury sitting at the Ford Prison trial at Hove Crown Court that following the prosecution's case, there was insufficient evidence to try 25-year-old Paul Hadcroft.

Mr Hadcroft, who was an inmate at Ford Prison when rioting broke out just after midnight on January 1 last year, was found not guilty of prison mutiny, violent disorder and arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, and was discharged from the court.

Judge Lawson said only one witness claimed to have seen Mr Hadcroft involved in the trouble, but on cross examination he was unable to say whether he was sure he had got the right person.

He said: "That means the case is insufficient and the end position was that he could not be sure that the person he thought was there actually participated in the incident."

The court heard that the mutiny at Ford Prison lasted for more than 12 hours, during which time prisoners smashed up buildings and set them on fire, causing millions of pounds of damage and putting people's lives at risk.

Lee Roberts, 41, Thomas Regan, 23, Ryan 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. Regan has pleaded guilty to that charge.

Roberts, Regan, 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, although this is not accepted by the prosecution.

The case was adjourned until Monday when Roberts is expected to take the stand.