HMP Garth inmate who brewed homemade booze and flogged it for £40 was attacked by disgruntled prisoners after refusing to drop the price

A prisoner produced a notorious fruit based homemade alcohol called Hooch in his cell to sell to other inmates for a profit, a court has heard.

By Stef Hall
Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:01 pm

Convict Darryl Smart suffered puncture wounds and bruising when he was attacked by three disgruntled inmates after one became unhappy that he would not lower the price - which was paid in 'canteen credit' rather than cash.

He had kept the Hooch hidden in two containers marked as floor polish and washing up liquid, which Judge Richard Gioserano raised concerns about, during a sentencing hearing for the men.

Preston Crown Court was told criminals Mark Colburn, Jason McLoughlin and Thomas Burns set upon Smart in a cell at around 4.40pm on April 5, 2019, after he had refused Burns' demands that he lowered the price to £25.

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HMP Garth

The trio admits causing actual bodily harm on the basis they "visited him about something else" and it "turned into violence involving no weapon at all" - though originally it was alleged it was a group attack in which he was stabbed with tweezers and injured with a tin can hidden in a pillow.

Kelly Cyples, prosecuting, said the victim had been on E Wing around two years, with Burns arriving two weeks after him, Colburn in 2018 and McLoughlin shortly before the attack.

She added: " The victim had been producing hooch - home made alcohol - in his cell which he was selling for a profit for around £40 and sharing that profit with another inmate who was distilling the Hooch for him. The currency was canteen goods and not cash.

"On April 4 the victim was stood in the servery and Mr Burns said to him: 'You need to lower your prices'.

"He asked for a bottle for £25 rather than £40 and the victim stated he did not want to speak to him at that time as there were lots of other people around."

On April 5 at around midday the victim was again asked to sell him Hooch for a lower price and he said no as it would "leave him with no profit".

The court heard Burns was unhappy and left "muttering to himself".

At 4.40pm the victim was stood outside his cell when Colburn asked for a word and motioned him into his cell.

The men accept attacking Smart but deny it was premeditated or involved a weapon.

On April 8 a prison officer became aware of the assault and the victim disclosed it to him, having feared to do so beforehand.

CCTV showed all three entering his cell and McLaughlin leaving with items in his hands.

Two drums of Hooch were found in Colborn's cell.

Smart' had suffered bruises to his face, head, left arm and wrist, puncture wounds to the back of his left leg, and severe bruising and puncture wounds to the stomach.

Prison 'hooch' is also known as 'pruno' or 'toilet wine', because it is sometimes hidden in toilet tanks while fermenting.

In prison, it is sometimes made with a plastic bag that can be sealed.

Fruit is pulped up, and yeast or pieces of bread added, and then it is sealed and hidden placed somewhere warm, such as a toilet tanks, where it can ferment for up to a week.

Judge Gioserano said: "I can well understand why, notwithstanding the fact the three of you are serving long sentences already, why the three of you were prosecuted.

"It was originally alleged that the three of you had effectively launched a joint group attack upon Darryl Smart in his cell, in effect a revenge attack because of a disagreement over the price of Darryl Smart's Hooch.

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"However the case may have started its life in that way but has ended its life on a very different basis indeed.

"Any degree of violence on a fellow prisoner is a serious matter and would usually result in a consecutive term so prisoners understand if they engage in deliberate assaults on fellow prisoners there is a price to pay.

"But your case is not that now."

McLachlan, who is serving a life sentence with a minimum 10 year term imposed at Swansea Crown Court for attempted murder, got eight months.

Burns, who is serving an indeterminate 13.5 year term, got four months, and life prisoner Colburn got 10 months.

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