Drunken prisoner from Sidmouth tried to sing Christmas carols through prison’s tannoy system

Andrew Gillen.

Andrew Gillen. - Credit: Archant

Andrew Gillen, 31, lands himself extra year inside for ‘disgraceful and serious’ incident.

A drunken prisoner’s attempt to hold a belated Christmas celebration have landed him with an extra year inside after he tried to sing carols through the jail’s tannoy system.

Andrew Gillen missed the Christmas and new year celebrations at Exeter Prison because he was in the segregation unit, but was determined to make up for it when he went back onto the wing, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He got drunk on home-made alcohol known as hooch and led two other inmates on a raid on the central office.

He armed himself with a fire extinguisher which he let off in the face of one warder and threatened to stab a second during the violent incident.

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Reinforcements were called and he was arrested before he had a chance to sing any carols, the court heard.

Gillen, aged 31, of Lock Close, Sidmouth, admitted affray and was jailed for 12 months by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC.

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The sentence will follow the 15 months he is currently serving for stabbing a drug dealer during an argument in Exeter .

The judge told him: “You have a bad record for violence and this was a disgraceful and serious incident. The courts will do everything they can to protect prison officers from violence.”Mr William Hunter, prosecuting, said, on January 5, Gillen entered the office with two other men who have not been identified, and threatened to stab the officer on duty, who fled.

He was armed with a fire extinguisher which he fired at the next officer who came to intervene. He was eventually detained and taken to the segregation unit.

Mr Hunter said:”The defendant was under the influence of hooch which he said he had been drinking because he had missed the Christmas and new year celebrations.”

Mr William Parkhill, defending, said: “He did not realise how serious this was. He intended mischief rather than nastiness. After consuming a considerable amount of alcohol, he wanted to access the tannoy system.

“He wanted to amuse people by singing on the tannoy. He did not realise how seriously the prison would see it and matters took a turn for the worse.

“He cannot remember threatening to stab anyone and in his drunken state he thought letting off the fire extinguisher was a bit of mischief.”

Mr Parkhill said the incident led to Gillen being moved away from Exeter , which he hated, to Portland , where he has become a model prisoner and enrolled on courses on alcohol-related violence and thinking.

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