Firebug torches cells and leads rooftop revolt at Polmont YOI

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A teenager took it upon himself to set fires in his cell four times before leading fellow inmates up onto the roof of Polmont Young Offenders Instition in a protest over lack of excercise.

Patrick Marshall (18) set fire to the cells he was held in on four different occasions – one of the incidents saw four fire applicances and 17 firefighters attending the YOI. In total the fires caused £3134 of damage.

On one occasion Marshall used the live wires from his cell’s toilet light switch to set some toilet paper alight in order to start a blaze.

Appearing from custody at Falkirk Sheriff Court last Thursday, Marshall admitted the wilful fire raising which began on February 8 last year and a breach of the peace on May 28, 2018.

As if the hundreds of pounds worth of damage to various cells was not enough, Marshall was also the “ringleader” of day-long rooftop protests – supposedly to highlight the lack of exercise they were getting – which saw skylights and windows damaged and smashed, causing a further £3433 of damage to the YOI.

Christina Kely, procurator fiscal depute, said: “They had climbed on top of the main corridor roof. Marshall appeared to be the ringleader as items, including rubble, were thrown towards prison staff below.

“They said it was a nice day in the sunshine and they wanted to go out. CCTV footage shows the offenders smashing a window with a metal pole, throwing items and sunbathing.” It was stated Marshall had initially struggled to cope when he first arrived at Polmont and the fires were the result.

The court heard he had settled down and was now a peer mentor for other prisoners.

Marshall was said to believe the rooftop protest process led directly to a change in policy at the YOI which now sees offenders being given more time to exercise outside.

He was due to be released from his current sentence in January next year, but Sheriff John Mundy sentenced Marshall to a further 45 months in detention to be served from the end of his current stretch.