TWO inmates carried out a co-ordinated attack on another prisoner at a women’s jail after deliberately starting fires in microwave ovens as a distraction, a court heard.

Chloe Cooper and Emma Kent put newspaper and vials from vapes as combustible material into microwaves in an association room kitchen, at Low Newton Prison, Durham, on August 26, 2018.

Durham Crown Court heard the ovens were switched on to cause a build-up of smoke.

David Lamb, prosecuting, said the pair then barricaded the association room door with a sofa before turning their attention on an inmate who was using a treadmill.

She later said she was aware of the other pair being in the room and recalled a burning smell, when she suddenly turned around and was struck by something heavy.

Cooper, who had placed three pool balls into a sock, used the makeshift weapon to deliver blows to the victims’ arms and back.

Mr Lamb said she tried to leave the room but was unable to dislodge the sofa, blocking the door, so she curled into a ball for protection.

Prison staff managed to force their way into the room, and found the victim suffering bruising and swelling to her nose and right eye, a laceration to her eye brow and a small cheek abrasion.

Cooper made no comment when interviewed while Kent denied responsibility for the attack, although she admitted booking the pool balls from the staff office, but with the intention of playing pool.

The court was told both have previous offences for violence and arson on their records, with Cooper serving a 20-month sentence at the time for two counts of reckless fire-raising.

Michael Cahill, for Cooper, said psychiatric reports outlined she is on the autism spectrum and has a personality disorder. She claimed to have been “hearing voices” at the time of the attack.

Fiona Lamb, for Kent, said she too has mental health issues and played a lesser role in the assault, although accepts barricading the door.

Judge James Adkin said whatever they claim, “the evidence points to it being pre-planned”, although he remains unaware from where the dispute with the other inmate stemmed.

Both Cooper, 22, and Kent, 33, each of no fixed abode, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and arson.

Cooper received a further two years on her existing sentence and Kent was made subject of an extended determinate sentence of 22 months in custody, followed by a year on extended licence.