Prisoner torched his cell at Leeds jail causing £6,000 worth of damage and led to an evacuation

A prisoner set fire to his cell in a Leeds jail which then led to an evacuation and caused thousands of pounds in damage.
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Smoke seeping into neighbouring cells left prison guards little choice but to remove the surrounding inmates at HMP Wealstun in Wetherby as they waited for the emergency services.

Kelsey Thompson had stuffed material between the window and the outside grill of his cell and set it alight at on the evening of June 5, 2021, Leeds Crown Court heard.

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Prosecutor Jessica Strange said officers could smell smoke at around 7pm, and when they went to Thompson’s cell it was completely filled with smoke. She said that the outside part of the window was “engulfed in flames”.

HMP Wealstun in Wetherby (pic by National World)HMP Wealstun in Wetherby (pic by National World)
HMP Wealstun in Wetherby (pic by National World)

The tried to extinguish the flames through the door hatch as they waited for the fire service.

They were able to remove 36-year-old Thompson from his cell. No smoke alarm was in his cell after he had previously removed it. After bringing the fire under control, it was assessed to have caused more than £6,500 worth of damage.

Appearing in court via video link from HMP Leeds, Thompson admitted arson as being reckless as to whether property would be destroyed or damaged.

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He has 21 previous convictions for 50 offences, mainly for theft and dishonesty. None are for arson.

Mitigating, Martin Morrow said that Thompson had already served longer on remand that can be imposed for the offence, which was conceded by Judge Christopher Batty. He gave him 12 months’ jail, meaning he would likely be released immediately.