Prisoner 'mourning loss of hamster' took part in £12,000 jail protest

Updated: 

A distressed inmate mourning the loss of his pet hamster took part in a two-hour jail protest which caused £12,000 in damage.

Kyle Blackie, 23, was one of four prisoners at HMP Stocken in Rutland who climbed on to netting with a mattress, food and Monopoly on April 14 last year at around 6pm.

Craig Mercer, 26, and Shane Green, 25, were jailed for 22 months each at a previous hearing after admitting affray and criminal damage, while Anthony Bailey, 32, received a 20-month jail term.

A Syrian hamster in a cage
Kyle Blackie was mourning the loss of a hamster like this one (Maria_Ermolova/Thinkstock)

The court had previously heard that the group smashed furniture and light fittings, and that Blackie surrendered two hours after the protest began.

Prosecutor Gordon Aspden said Blackie claimed the "distress" at the death of his pet was one reason he gave for taking part in the disorder.

The court heard that Blackie, of Edlington, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, was serving a five-year sentence for a series of burglaries in Nottinghamshire, Humberside and North Yorkshire and was released in April this year.

Leicester Crown Court
Kyle Blackie was spared prison when he appeared at Leicester Crown Court (Lucy Bogustawski/PA)

But the landscape gardener was spared jail when he appeared before judge Nicolas Dean QC at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday, who handed down an 18-month sentence suspended for two years following guilty pleas to affray and criminal damage.

He said: "Disorder in prisons is a serious and ongoing problem and has to be discouraged by the use of deterrent sentences.
"You have turned your life around since April in a way that might be considered quite remarkable."

He added returning Blackie to custody - where he may associate with criminals - would be "utterly counter productive".

"By your behaviour since April, you have shown that you deserve a chance. That is what it is: a chance and opportunity for you," the judge said.