A fourth inmate at HMP/YOI Deerbolt has received extended time behind bars for taking part in a group attack on an older prisoner in retaliation for alleged “bullying behaviour”.

Three former inmates at the custodial establishment at Startforth, near Barnard Castle, who are each now detained in other custodial settings, received additional sentences of between 20 and 22 months at a hearing at Durham Crown Court, on Monday (March 11).

Ethan Burke, 22, of Thornaby, Teesside, Thomas Nicholson, 28, from Newcastle, and 21-year-old Ellis Salisbury, from Norwich, all admitted a joint charge of violent disorder, arising from a pre-planned attack on the older inmate, in the B-wing recreation room at Deerbolt, on January 17, last year.

The court heard that the establishment, formerly solely a young offenders’ institution, now also holds older prisoners.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Dr Chris Wood, prosecuting, said the victim of the attack was among those first older prisoners to be held at Deerbolt and his attackers hatched a plan to assault him in revenge for his alleged bullying of younger, more vulnerable inmates.

On the day in question, Burke struck the victim over the head with a paper cup as he was about to take a shot while playing pool with another inmate, during a wing association period, at 6.25pm.

This was said to be a signal for other co-accused present around the ‘rec room’ to plough in and also assault the lone victim, who was kicked and punched and also had the pool table thrust on him after he fell to the floor.

Dr Wood said although the assaulted inmate did not assist in the investigation or make a victim statement the incident was captured on CCTV, which enabled screen grabs to be taken to establish the respective roles of the perpetrators.

A fourth inmate involved in the attack, Sheldon Burgess, now aged 20, appeared at the court today (Wednesday, March 13) via video link from nearby HMP Durham, where he is now detained.

Dr Wood said Burgess who was in a room adjoining the association area when the violence broke out, joined in the sustained assault later, kicking the victim when he was on the floor, before being pushed away.

He returned to the melee and inflicted two punches and another kick before the attack petered out, before the arrival of prison officers to separate all involved.

Burgess refused to be interviewed but also pleaded guilty to violent disorder at the outset of today’s hearing.

The court heard the defendant, from Partington, Greater Manchester, is serving a 67-month custodial sentence for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing an offensive weapon, arising from an attack in a park in Altrincham, also Greater Manchester, in June 2021.

Chris Morrison, for Burgess, told the court that his client was not the “prime mover” in the assault into which he was “pressured”, with the threat of violence due to his “reluctance” to take part.

“He did receive a beating which knocked his front teeth out.”

Although there were no formal proceedings within the prison setting, he did suffer a loss of privileges as a result of his role in the incident.

Mr Morrison added that the release date for his client from his existing sentence is in April, next year, and, ultimately, when he earns his freedom, he plans to move away from the Manchester area to start a new life with his family in Wales.

Judge Nathan Adams, who passed sentence on the trio before the court on Monday, also presided over today’s sentencing hearing.

He told Burgess he accepted he may not have been initially involved in the attack but he did then join in, punching and kicking the victim, before it was broken up.

Passing a consecutive 20-month sentence, starting only once his existing jail term is completed, Judge Adams told Burgess there had to be a message of deterrence to other inmates who become involved in violence behind bars.

The defendant will have to serve half of the sentence, before being released on licence, at some time in 2026.

Three others involved in the attack will be sentenced at the court on April 19.