AN inmate who began a fire in his cell at a young offenders’ institution (YOI) tried to prevent prison officers from extinguishing the blaze, a court heard.

Officers responded to a fire alarm sounding in B-wing at Deerbolt YOI, near Barnard Castle, at 1.25pm, on March 25, 2020.

Durham Crown Court heard that on attending the cell in question, whose sole occupant was defendant Kyle Clegg, the officers could not see through the observation hatch as he had blocked it, on his side of the door, with a mattress.

Chris Morrison, prosecuting, said when the officers tried to extinguish the fire, Clegg kept pushing the hose back through the hatch, while threatening to assault any officers who came into his cell.

Mr Morrison said there was clearly a fire inside the cell, but the door was too hot to touch.

When the officers tried to further communicate with Clegg he was abusive, repeating his threats of violence.

Eventually, after half-an-hour stand-off, an extraction team was deployed, forcing their way into the cell and removing Clegg, before other officers put out the fire.

When interviewed later, Clegg made no comment to all questions.

A statement read to the hearing from the Deerbolt governor said that the setting of the fire appeared, “reckless and intentional”.

He said there was the prospect of it leading to disorder among inmates as 50 others on the wing were confined to their cells, with the risk of the spread of smoke.

The damage caused was put at £1,150, but it was confined to Clegg’s cell and there was no significant further loss.

Read more: Trio plotted to smuggle drugs into Deerbolt YOI

Mr Morrison said there was no evidence as to Clegg’s motivation, but because of the passage of time since the offence, the defendant was released on licence from his previous sentence in late March, last year.

His return to mainstream living in Liverpool was not a success, however, and he was re-called to prison, with a scheduled release date in December.

Appearing via video link from prison now in Liverpool, the 22-year-old defendant indicated a guilty plea to a charge of arson in an appearance before magistrates last month.

The case was sent for sentence to the crown court.

Claire Jones, for Clegg, said he was penalised for the offence while in custody, being put “on report” and “down the block” for three months, in segregation.

She said there was a 12-month gap before he was interviewed and almost another year went by before he was court summonsed.

Ms Jones said the defendant has suffered with mental health and self-harm issues.

“So, there’s evidence it appears to have been committed along those lines rather than for any other reason.

“It’s particularly an issue when not taking his medication, which he wasn’t at the time of this offence.”

Judge James Adkin said there appeared to have been a “recklessness” on the defendant’s behalf as to whether serious damage was caused.

“This was a fire in a prison cell where inmates are incarcerated and more vulnerable to smoke damage or injury.”

He imposed a ten-month prison sentence which he said should “not significantly effect” the defendant’s ultimate release date.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054