FIRE alarms sounded and officers descended on a prison wing after an inmate set fire to his cell using a vape.

Prison officers at HMP Risley were alerted to the incident in cell S1 at around 4pm in the afternoon on June 8, 2023.

As fire alarms rang through the wing, officers arrived at the cell door of inmate James Walker to find smoke had filled the room while he was still inside.

Walker had started the fire in the bathroom of the cell using a vape, it was heard at Liverpool Crown Court last Friday (July 5).

A number of prison officers were present and wearing smoke hoods and used specialised equipment as they attempted to extract the smoke from the room through a hole in the door.

Louise Santamera, prosecuting, told the court how the defendant was refusing to comply with the instructions given by the officers as they tried to persuade him to leave the cell.

Eventually Walker stopped resisting and officers were able to open and create a small gap in the door to drag him through.

Footage was shown in court of the commotion as members of staff tried to extinguish the smoke and bring the defendant to safety.

Once the defendant was pulled from the cell he was taken to another room and checked over with no injuries found.

Ms Santamera said the 28-year-old refused to take part in a police interview following the incident but had stated that he had set fire to his cell after requesting pictures and footage which he had not been provided.

He pleaded guilty to the offence of arson.

She added that Walker, of Alnwick Drive, Ellesmere Port, has an extensive criminal history consisting of 34 convictions for 49 offences.

Those offences include that of criminal damage, theft and three convictions for robbery.

His most recent convictions included assault with intent to rob and the assault of an emergency worker.

Defending, Ken Heckle acknowledged that his client’s behaviour was ‘reckless’.

“His floored thinking is that he was in a very dark place at the time,” he said.

Suggesting to the presiding Judge David Aubrey that a community order be given, he added: “Prison has been tried and tried and tried again. He was in care from the age of seven until 25, he has not had the best of starts in life.”

Before handing a suspended sentence to Walker, Judge Aubrey addressed the defendant, saying: “You have a most unattractive record and on frequent occasions you have been before the court.

“You were sentenced in total to a period of 61 months for offences of assault with intent to rob.

“You then received a consecutive sentence for five months in prison. You served the sentence and were released in October 2021 but were recalled after a very short time to serve the remainder of your sentence.

“You committed the offence of arson whilst you were incarcerated.”

He added that prison workers who attended the incident put their lives at risk to extinguish the fire.

Walker was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with three requirements.

He was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and a minimum of 40 rehabilitation requirement days as well as take part in a mental health treatment requirement.