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Deerbolt prisoner took inmate hostage
AN inmate took another prisoner hostage with a makeshift knife in an attempt to move to another jail.
Benjamin Lancaster was hoping to be moved from Deerbolt Young Offenders’ Institution, in County Durham, as punishment.
He though he might lose four weeks of remission from a fiveyear sentence he was serving for a gang attack involving weapons.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told the 21-year-old, from Redcar, east Cleveland: “Now, you are to be sadly disillusioned about that.”
The Teesside Crown Court judge added three-and-a-half years to Lancaster’s sentence after hearing how he plotted the hostage drama.
In letters to people on the outside, he complained about being downgraded to basic privileges for what his barrister called a squabble.
One said: “Me and one of the other boys were going to take someone hostage just so we could get shipped out.”
Another read: “Some kid from Manchester in the pad next door got taken hostage yesterday. It was funny.”
Lancaster burst into the cell of Mohammed Ali, 21, barricaded himself in and held the makeshift weapon to his throat.
The hour-long incident, on January 21, ended when staff persuaded him to give up his weapon and come out of the cell.
Lancaster’s barrister, Nigel Soppitt, said: “He greatly regrets what he did. He recognises now that it was idiotic.
“He was rebelling against the authorities. He has been foolish in the extreme, not thinking of the consequences.”
The court heard that Lancaster spent seven weeks in isolation after the incident, but has since become a model prisoner.
Judge Bourne-Arton said: “It has been described as an act of stupidity. I disagree. It was more than that. It was very dangerous.
“You subjected that man to an hour of terror. Not only that, you decided to take the law into your own hands.
“Courts have to make sure that prisoners such as you do not behave in this way, otherwise the whole system will break down.
“You thought about it for some time. You believed you would only lose a few days remission, and now you are to be sadly disillusioned about that.”
Lancaster, who admitted false imprisonment, was said by his barrister to have made amends to Ali.