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Granny of protesting inmate lifted up in a hoist to talk him down from prison rooftop

Eric Harcourt, aged 22, climbed onto the roof of Cloverhill Prison and remained there for over 12 hours.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE GRANDMOTHER OF a protesting inmate was lifted up in a hoist to try to talk him down from a prison roof, a court has heard.

Eric Harcourt, aged 22, climbed onto the roof of Cloverhill Prison using clothing that other prisoners had tossed up to prevent being injured from the razor wire.

He remained on the roof for hours with another inmate, Dean Byrne, aged 25. Both inmates refused attempts from the prison negotiator and both their grandmothers to persuade them to come down.

Harcourt, of Belcamp Grove, Priorswood, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Cloverhill Prison, Clondalkin, Dublin on 29 July 2015.

Judge Martin Nolan said that Harcourt was an active participant in the violent disorder and said it was a good thing nobody was injured when he threw debris off the roof.

He imposed a six-month sentence consecutive to Harcourt’s current jail term, which is due to expire in April 2019.

Harcourt has 74 previous convictions and was on remand at the time for an offence of endangerment, for which he received a four and a half year jail term.

Detective Garda Donal Daly told Roisin Lacey SC, prosecuting, that the riot broke out in the prison yard after up to 64 inmates had been “expressing disgruntlement” about disciplinary matters.

He said a prison officer saw Harcourt helping to carry one of the yard’s goal posts to a nearby observational hub, where it was used to smash the windows and rip razor wire off the roof.

Prison officers then saw Harcourt climb onto the roof and smash windows with a long metal pole.

Water hoses were deployed to prevent other prisoners climbing up. Detective Garda Daly said Harcourt was seen throwing “debris” onto prison officers below and that he smashed an aerial that had been connected to a pipe.

Prison officers used hoists to get the negotiator and Harcourt’s grandmother up to roof level in a bid to get him to come down once the violent disorder had abated.

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Harcourt eventually descended at 1.30am after the riot had begun around 11am the previous day.

Detective Garda Daly agreed with Ronan Munro SC, defending, that nothing happened on the roof for large periods of time after the violent disorder was resolved a few hours after it had begun.

He agreed that Harcourt, a father-of-one, had a very low cognitive ability and was one of the youngest prisoners in the yard.

Munro submitted to Judge Nolan that Harcourt had love and support from his family and girlfriend.

He asked the judge not to “close the door completely” on his client when passing the mandatory consecutive sentence.

Byrne, of Belcamp Crescent Priorswood, received a six-month consecutive sentence for aiding and abetting violent disorder on the same date.

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Aoife Nic Ardghail

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