Three inmates who participated in a 12-hour riot at St Patrick’s Institution in the grounds of Mountjoy Prison have been given two-year suspended sentences by Judge Frank O’Donnell at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
They are: John Kinlan (aged 21) Johnstown Gardens, Ballygall Road, Finglas; Joseph McDonagh (aged 20), Oakville House, Mullingar, Co Westmeath; and Jonathan Lynch (aged 19), St Grellan’s Terrace, Ballinasloe, Galway; who all pleaded guilty to criminal damage of the security nets at the Institution on February 28-29, 2004.
Warren Flood (aged 21) Empress Place, Dublin 1, who also pleaded guilty to criminal damage was given a two-year sentence which was backdated to February 29, 2004.
A fifth inmate, Eammon Cumberton (aged 19), Phibsboro, who admitted to being involved in violent disorder that night was remanded on bail pending sentence to allow his parents attend meetings with his probation officer.
Four other inmates: Mark Byrne (aged 21), Emerald Place, Sherriff Street, Dublin 1 who pleaded guilty to being involved in violent disorder; and Darren O’Brien (aged 20), Gardiner Street, Dublin 1; Karl Loftus (aged 21) Poplar Row, Ballybough; and Noel Franklin (aged 18), Whitecross Gardens, Moyross, Co Limerick who all admitted criminal damage, were sentenced last month by Judge O'Donnell.
Byrne and Loftus were jailed for two and one years respectively while O’Brien and Franklin received a two- and one-year suspended term respectively.
A warrant was issued for a tenth accused who has not yet come before the courts.
Judge O’Donnell said it was apparent that the riot started as a result of the authorities putting up the netting "to prevent articles being thrown into the detention centre, mostly drugs" and complimented the prison officers on their actions that night.
Sergeant Joseph Keeley told Mr Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, at the sentence hearing, that prisoner officers noticed 10 men congregating in the exercise yard at 6 pm before they moved towards the roof of a small outbuilding and began to rip the security netting above it.
All 10 men got over the netting and, as the prison officers went to intervene, Byrne was seen to be carrying the leg of a chair which he swung at the staff and threatened them to stay away.
Sgt Keeley said Byrne, Cumberton and the tenth man were the only men involved in threatening the officers and Cumberton was heard saying he would "smash their faces in" if anyone tried to get near them.
Sgt Keeley told Mr Carroll that it was effectively a stand-off situation between prison officers and the 10 inmates and a decision was made to just wait for them to come down. Cumberton and the tenth man got involved in a fight and a water hose had to be used to "quell the situation".
The netting at the outbuilding was ripped and was further damaged by the inmates running and walking through it during the night.
Although it was accepted that it wasn’t in good condition previous to the incident, the estimated cost for its repair was €2,000. It was later replaced and a better more secure system was put in place.
Sgt Keeley said that the men came down "in dribs and drabs" over the course of the night, with Loftus falling through the netting at 1.15am. He was followed at 4am by Franklin, O’Brien and Flood, and at 4.40am Kinlan and McDonagh joined them. Cumberton came down an hour later while Lynch and Byrne did not move until 7am and 7.50am respectively.
All were brought before the Institution governor who imposed the maximum punishment for breach of prison regulations, including loss of privileges and remission for 14 days. They were also put into solitary confinement for a period of three days and some were transferred to the Midlands and Cork Prisons.
Sgt Keeley told Mr Carroll that Cumberton had 13 previous convictions, Byrne had 20, McDonagh had 20, Lynch had 12, Flood had 64, Kinlan had 21, Loftus had 13, O’Brien had seven and Franklin had 39. Most of these represented convictions in the Children Court but some had Circuit Criminal Court convictions.
It was accepted in cross-examination that the case was originally supposed to be dealt with in the District Court but jurisdiction was refused. While most of the men had brought extra clothing with them onto the roof, Lynch hadn’t and it was therefore accepted he wasn’t the ringleader. Flood and Loftus were described as the least threatening of the men.