Strangeways rioters jailed for 88 years

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ELEVEN men were yesterday jailed for a total of 88 years for their part in the riot at Strangeways prison in April 1990.

Alan Lord, a convicted murderer, was given a 10-year jail sentence in his absence. He and four other prisoners escaped 13 days ago from cells at Manchester Crown Court where the trial was being held.

Kevin Gee and Glyn Williams were also jailed for 10 years for their part in the riot.

Barry Morton, the only escaper to be recaptured, and Mark Williams were jailed for eight years. Nathan Gaynor was sentenced to seven years, and Earl Fahey, who pleaded guilty before the trial began, was imprisoned for five years.

Tony Bush and David Bowen were jailed for nine years in their absence. Mark Azzopardi, who also escaped, was sentenced to eight years, and John Murray, who is also on the run, was jailed for four years. Bowen, who escaped while being taken to court, has been at large since December.

They were convicted of various offences including conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, riot and violent disorder.

Darren Jones and Andrew Nelson were both cleared.

Judge Michael Sachs described the 25-day siege at the Manchester jail as a 'terrible and violent confrontation'.

He told the men: 'You held at bay a large number of officers by your organised and frightening violence. It is only by the providence of God that worse injuries were not sustained by those trying to recover the jail, although goodness knows some of the injuries were bad enough.

'Your complaints about the prison regime, real or imagined, could not excuse any of you taking part in the longest, most expensive and most violent prison riot in the history of this country.

'You had your period of arrogance and violence in front of the world but now the price must be paid and paid by you.'

The riot began in the chapel and quickly escalated into a siege as convicts rampaged through the jail and broke out on to the roof. Over the next 25 days attempts to retake the jail were foiled, with prison officers being driven back by bricks, slates and home-made weapons.

By the time the last rioters gave themselves up, the jail was wrecked. It has cost about pounds 68m to rebuild. The police investigation and the cost of keeping prisoners in police cells has added another pounds 60m to the total bill.

Fifty prisoners were arrested and charged after the riot. Some were dealt with last year, and another 27 are still to be tried.

The sentences passed yesterday came at the end of a five-month trial estimated to have cost pounds 2m.