Violent prisoner used electronic vape to set fire to cell at HMP Wakefield during protest

An inmate used an electronic vape to set fire to his cell at Wakefield Jail.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 12:32 pm

Officers had to use specialist equipment to stop the blaze spreading at the maximum security jail after Christopher Hartley carried out the arson offence.

Leeds Crown Court heard the 33-year-old started the fire in protest as he was angry at being moved onto a segregation unit and having his privileges removed.

Hartley is serving a 14-year sentence, imposed in 2014, for wounding with intent and aggravated burglary.

HMP Wakefield.
HMP Wakefield.

The defendant started the fire in his cell on February 13 last year.

Officers were alerted by a fire alarm and saw flames when they looked through the cell door hatch.

Hartley was inside the cell and called one of the officers a "d*** head".

The officer put "hydro mist equipment" through the door hatch which put out the fire and prevented smoke from rising in the cell.

Firefighters were called but the blaze had been extinguished by the time they arrived.

It was discovered that Hartley had used the heat from his electronic vape to set fire to pieces of wood and paper in his cell.

A cell window had to be replaced, costing £3,900.

Hartley was interviewed and admitted using the device to ignite paper and furniture in his cell.

The defendant, who pleaded guilty to arson, told officers he had started the fire after his "head had gone."

James Lake, mitigating, said Hartley committed the office when he was moved into a segregation cell and placed on a basic regime.

Mr Lake said his client had also been suffering from mental health difficulties.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC ordered that six months be added to the sentence that Hartley is currently serving.

He said: "The message has to be understood that people who commit offences in prison are likely to stay there for a longer period."