Inmate given extra time for arson after causing £4,000 blaze at prison

HMP Lancaster Farms
HMP Lancaster Farms

A prisoner used a broken flex from a faulty kettle to cause a spark that triggered a fire at a Lancashire jail.

Dad-of-one John Marland, was due to be released this November but has been given an additional 31 months after admitting arson with intent to endanger life.

The 24-year-old was serving a four year term at HMP Lancaster Farms when, fuelled on Spice and alcohol, he set bedding ablaze in his cell on February 23, 2016, Preston Crown Court heard.

Prosecuting, Frances McEntee said the custodial manage was alerted at 2am by a fire alarm in Marland's cell.

He added: "That result in prison officers being deployed -they are prepared of course for matters such as fires - to the outside of the cell and deploying a system which requires inundating the cell with water while the inmate lies on the floor.

"He was showing considerable signs of distress. The officer noted there was considerable smoke coming from the sides of the door. He had to make his own risk assessment but came to the conclusion he should be let out of his cell."

The court heard Marland fell to his knees and was restrained while they made sure he was in a 'safe' condition.

he had to be put in a new cell and the prisoner above him had to be moved to a new cell due to the smoke.

Lancashire's fire service had to deploy four appliances and had to remain there to use fans to blow the smoke out.

The cell damage came to £1,200 - a total cost to the public purse of £4,000.

In an interview Marland admitted taking Spice and claimed he had drunk three litres of the alcopop Hooch.

He originally claimed the fire must have been an accident caused by the faulty kettle - but a probe found it was on the opposite side of the cell to his bed and revealed the cable had been exposed and separated to make a spark to ignite the bed.

His defence lawyer said he had done " everything possible" to better himself including various prison courses.

Judge Heather Lloyd said: " There was significant damage, significant disruption and significant risk to others - risks you took quite deliberately

"One important feature is you were taking Spice and you were drinking alcohol, and you must know how Spice is affecting prisoners and people outside the prison estate. You know it's illegal and you knew it was reckless to take it."

After the case, John Taylor, of Lancashire Fire and rescue Service, said: " Thanks to alert prison staff and the intervention of firefighters no-one was injured, but arson can lead to deaths and injury and the sentence is consistent with the seriousness of the offence."