Death of inmate's pet hamster sparked £12,000 prison riot
Riot started after death of hamster.
The death of an inmate's pet hamster sparked a prison riot which caused more than £12,000 damage.
Four prisoners took part in the "protest", trashing their landing, smashing furniture and light fittings inside HMP Stocken.
All the men said they had grievances, but Kyle Blackie claimed he was "distressed" over the death of his rodent.
The drama went on for four hours before specially trained officers were sent in to restore order.
Leicester Crown Court was told the four men climbed onto the "suicide netting" between two floors at the jail near Oakham, Rutland.
Two of the inmates, Craig Mercer, 26, and Shane Green, 25, remained there for four hours before they were finally brought down.
They were angry after having their cells searched, when they claimed treasured photographs were damage. Blackie, 23, was upset about his pet hamster passing away.
Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said the trio and another man Anthony Bailey, 32, climbed onto the netting shortly before 6pm on April 14 last year.
He said: "They took a mattress, chairs, food, tobacco and bizarrely a Monopoly game - which showed they were planning to spend some time up there."
He added: "Bailey said he wanted 'out,' and Blackie was distressed about losing a pet hamster a few days earlier."
It was not said if Blackie's hamster was being kept in the prison or was with his family. Prisoners are allowed to keep pets as part of a "privilege and incentive" scheme if it has been agreed with jail bosses.
The governor and senior staff spoke to the men but they remained "defiant and arrogant".
Mr Aspden said: "Green began banging a broom handle on metal railings and broke up a chair so the others had a chair leg to also bang on railings."
Prison guards put the wing in "lock down" at 6.30pm as fears of the riot escalated. HMP Stocken is a Category C prison which houses a total of 800 prisoners in six wings.
The four men, each serving between five and six-and-a-half year sentences for burglary offences, "trashed" the landing smashing furniture and light fittings.
At 7.10pm they were warned over a tannoy they were committing prison mutiny, carrying a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
They hurled missiles at prison staff, but by 8pm Blackie and Bailey had surrendered.
The other two continued saying they were "happy to fight". At 10.30pm six specially-trained officers arrived, went onto the netting and subdued them with pepper spray.
All four were taken to a segregation unit and transferred to other prisons.
They were originally charged with prison mutiny, which they denied. In court they all pleaded guilty to alternative offences of affray and criminal damage.
Mercer and Green were each jailed for 22 months, consecutively to the terms they are already serving.
Bailey was jailed for 20 months, consecutively, and Blackie who has since been released from his original sentence, had his case adjourned for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.
Judge Nicholas Dean QC told them: "No doubt you had complaints, whether they were legitimate or not doesn't seem to matter because you reacted to them wholly disproportionately and caused huge disruption.
"It doesn't seem to be prison mutiny, as you weren't challenging the authority of the prison, but you were protesting in a violent and deeply unpleasant way about the conditions of your incarceration."
Defence barristers for the men, said in mitigation, they were sent to higher security prisons and subject to a more stringent regime.