Five Mountjoy prisoners hit with fines after wrecking cell
Published 01/09/2010 | 05:00
FIVE prisoners at Mountjoy have to pay €1,000 each in compensation after wrecking a holding cell in the main reception area.
The five were ordered by the prison authorities to hand over €10 a week each until the bill has been paid off.
The money will be deducted from their daily gratuity of €2.35, which they are paid while they serve their sentences. The gratuity works out at €16.45 a week or €855 a year.
The incident, which took place on Sunday, was not connected to a recent violent attack in the prison's separation unit. In that attack, an officer received 16 stitches for facial wounds after an unprovoked assault by an inmate held in a padded observation cell.
The five had been moved into the holding cell while their cells were being searched for possible smuggled drugs and mobile phones in a targeted operation.
They destroyed a CCTV camera, two smoke detectors and two light fittings and caused extensive damage to a door.
Two of the inmates, who were regarded as ringleaders in the incident, were transferred from Mountjoy to the Portlaoise and Midlands prisons as a result of disciplinary proceedings taken against them by Mountjoy management.
One of them is serving a five-year sentence for possession of drugs while the other has been locked up for four years for an assault.
The three other prisoners involved have also suffered a loss of privileges, such as visits and telephone calls, as punishment but have not been moved out of Mountjoy.
Nobody was injured during the incident.
A prison official said yesterday that the payment of compensation by prisoners for damage caused while serving their sentence was a regular feature of life in jail.
"The five are all serving lengthy sentences and will have sufficient time to pay off their bills before they are due for release back into society."
"They are all made aware from the start that if they maliciously break something, they must pay for it."
All of the damage to the holding cell has now been repaired. Officials believe the violence was sparked by the decision to search the cells.
Last week, a planned search by the Prison Service's specially trained Operational Support Group was carried out in the Mountjoy training unit, which is a semi-open centre used to house prisoners coming near the end of their sentence and those who have recently undergone drugs treatment or rehabilitation programmes.
They recovered 25 mobile phones, a dozen phone chargers, five small packets of drugs (mainly tablets), and 18 needles and syringes, as well as €50 in cash.
Another search later in the week yielded 3,200 pills, a weighing scales and two mobile phones when staff discovered a hole that had been cut in the floor and covered with lino.