Prison inmates sparked major riot after country put into lockdown

Michael McBride and Connor McCall took control of a wing at HMP Addiewell in March 2020.

Prison inmates sparked major riot after country put into lockdown chinaface via iStock
Riot: Michael McBride and Connor McCall sparked the riot at HMP Addiewell.

Two inmates sparked a large-scale jail riot after flying into a rage as the country was put into lockdown.

Michael McBride, 27, and Connor McCall, 26 took control of a wing at HMP Addiewell in West Lothian, attacked guards with makeshift blades, held two other prisoners hostage and started a fire.

The chaotic scenes happened on March 23, 2020, the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tough Covid restrictions on the UK.

On Thursday, a judge heard how prisoners were angry at the wing being locked up early that night mainly due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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It was more than ten hours before the violent protest was halted.

McBride and McCall appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday.

They were jailed for a total of ten years for their roles in the incident at the West Lothian prison.

The court heard how guards Robbie Nimmo and Declan Currie told inmates that morning the wing would be shut-up at 6pm rather than the usual 9pm.

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Prosecutor John Macpherson said: “One prisoner approached Mr Currie and argued with him over this.

“There was worry about coronavirus and he did not want to go to classes, but nor did he want to be locked in his cell all day.”

Mr Currie was branded a “f*****g super screw” and “power hungry”.

It quickly became apparent there was to be a “protest” about the decision.

One inmate said: “This is how screws end up getting done.”

The guards tried to speak to prisoners, but were told: “This is Forth B (wing), things go differently here.”

McBride and McCall became aggressive and attempts were made to calm them.

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Mr Macpherson said: “McBride pointed at Mr Nimmo and said: ‘He’s getting f*****g done.”

McBride had a toothbrush with a blade attached and lunged at the guard.

McCall hurled hot water over Mr Currie, who feared being badly burned.

McCall also had a makeshift weapon with two blades as he yelled: “Let’s go.”

Mr Currie ended up being slashed three times on the back.

A decision was made for all staff to get off the wing amid serious safety fears at the escalating trouble.

The pair were clocked damaging furniture, a computer and trying to smash CCTV cameras.

They then started a fire with flames reaching “several metres in height”.

One inmate tried to calm the pair but ended up being told he was being taken “hostage”.

He was bundled into a cell and had a bladed weapon held to his throat.

He then had his arms tied, told to keep his mouth shut and had a pillowcase pulled over his head.

McCall went on to force a second inmate into a cell, who was threatened in a similar manner.

At one point, a laughing McCall managed to break into a staff room.

As prison negotiators arrived, missiles were hurled and a pool table was used to try and block any access to the wing.

McCall threatened to “blow up” the homes of staff and that their families would “die a slow death”.

Prison staff eventually decided to move in around 5pm. McBride and McCall were seen with the hostages.

It was 7.30pm before the pair were held and the riot ended. Both were moved later to another prison.

Mr Macpherson said the total repair bill was £45,380.

McBride’s lawyer Euan Dow said: “March 23, 2020 was the first day of the nationwide lockdown and there was significant unrest about the perceived restrictions.

“Prisoners took exception and there were concerns about the pandemic within the confines of a prison.

“However, what happened was wholly without justification. In McBride’s words, matters snowballed and he got caught up and behaved in a disgraceful way.”

Janice Green, defending McCall, said the incident had been “protracted, but not planned”.

Both pled guilty to a breach of the peace as well as abduction and assault.

McCall separately admitted to two other assaults and stealing from the staff room.

McBride was jailed for four years and eight months with McCall locked up for five years and four months.

Lady Stacey said: “I can fully understand there was concern at the lockdown and that in a prison it was particularly difficult.

“However, there is no justification for what happened over the period of a whole day.”