Another prisoner took the stand at the Prison Unrest Commission of Inquiry on Friday and destroyed the testimony of some of his fellow inmates.
Prisoner Owen Belfield told the tribunal that he saw cell phones and marijuana within his Division where the fire broke out, killing 17 inmates.
During his testimony, he attempted to throw cold water on the prison authority’s claim that prisoners prevented their own rescue by barricading themselves in Capital A Division. Attorney Selwyn Pieters, who is representing the prison and police at the Commission of Inquiry introduced new evidence on Thursday and claimed that a cork was used by inmates to block the key hole on the door and in the process prevented officers from rendering assistance.
Belfield, who survived the deadly blaze, claimed that he was unaware that this was done by his fellow inmates.
The 28 – year – old murder accused told the Commission of Inquiry that the door can only be opened from outside and there is little tampering that could be done to the lock from the inside. Responding to questions from Attorney Dexter Todd, Belfield testified that no glass bottles were ever allowed into the division during his 11 months in the facility.
He said only plastic bottles would be allowed to enter the Division by the prison wardens. “Prison officers would check everything going into the cell,” he claimed. Belfield said if a cork was used, it would have to be plastic and suggested that the fire that was present at the doorway would have melted it in less than a minute.
He said he burnt plastic corks before and it never took an hour for it to melt. His testimony and that of other inmates was that they spent over one hour in the engulfed Division before the door was finally opened and they were allowed to leave the building. (Kurt Campbell)