Sunderland prison officer avoids jail after kicking and stamping on defenceless young inmate

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

A senior prison officer who kicked and stamped on a defenceless young inmate as he lay on the floor has narrowly avoided jail after admitting assault.

Michael Ambrose, who will lose his job of 18 years at Deerbolt Young Offender Institution, near Barnard Castle, was handed a three-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, at Teesside Crown Court.

Ambrose, of Hetton, must carry out 100 hours' unpaid work for kicking his victim while wearing heavy boots and Recorder Eric Elliott said it had been a "close call" not to impose an immediate jail sentence on the "disgraced" officer.

The court heard the 44-year-old officer attacked Brandon Moore, 18, as the inmate was lying on the floor of a wing office in August 2016.

The inmate was moving wings and a "melee" involving officers had developed after he tried to use a telephone without permission, Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said.

Ambrose, a married father-of-two, pushed past colleagues and kicked, stamped and then kicked again the teenager's legs as the inmate was being restrained on the floor.

Recorder Elliott was played CCTV footage of the event.

He was told how Ambrose, in a panic afterwards, went with a junior officer to the command centre and cut a disc of the CCTV, stopping it short of his involvement in the incident.

It was intended the edited disc would be used in any investigation into what had happened.

But Mr Moore's mother challenged the authorities in the days after the assault and a full investigation was carried out.

She wept in court when the CCTV of the assault was played.

Ros Scott-Bell, defending, said: "I would like her and the court to know that by the defendant pleading guilty, he has asked me to extend his apologies to her, to her son and indeed to the Prison Service.

"I am sure that is of little comfort to her because to see her son treated in the manner we have seen on the video would have been difficult indeed."

Ms Scott-Bell said Ambrose had no explanation for what he did, and she said although it was no excuse, his was a stressful role.

He was a well-respected member of staff who trained other officers and had been well respected.

Recorder Elliott said it was lucky the inmate's legs were not broken.

He told Ambrose: "You clearly suffered a loss of self-control in what can only be described as a vicious, unnecessary, unprovoked and gratuitous attack on a young man who was on the ground."

Ambrose pleaded guilty to assault on the day his trial was due to start.