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3 CONS BREAK OUT OF CELLS; Court bust-up.

Byline: By Keith McLeod

THREE prisoners escaped yesterday after a riot broke out in the cells of a court.

Police threw a security cordon round the building after the men burst through a toilet roof and hid in a crawl space under the courtroom floor.

Depute justice minister Hugh Henry was told of the break-out minutes before he was due to arrive at Paisley Sheriff Court for an official ceremony.

Two of the remand prisoners were quickly caught after dog handlers were called in.

Henry arrived for the function when the situation was under control.

But the third man was still talking to police negotiators from the crawl space last night.

Early reports suggested he had got himself stuck.

The three men escaped as dignitaries began to arrive for a presentation to mark the fifth anniversary of the Witness Service in the area.

Earlier, there had been noisy disturbances from the packed cells below the court where more than 40 prisoners were held.

They banged on the walls and shouted so loudly it could be heard throughout the building.

Sheriff Desmond Leslie was forced to abandon the custody court sitting.

A Reliance guard was punched and spat on as he tried to quell the disturbance.

Police in riot gear surrounded the James Street building after prisoners broke through the roof of the toilet in the cells area.

They clambered into a void containing pipes, cables and ducting - immediately under the floor of Court One.

Normal procedure is that prisoners going to the toilet are not handcuffed and the guard does not follow them in.

A Reliance spokesman said: "Our normal procedures were applied.

"While in the toilet area, three prisoners entered the roof space. Our staff alerted police."

CAPTION(S):

DISTURBANCE: At Paisley Sheriff Court' VISIT: Hugh Henry
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 8, 2006
Words:298
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