Man sentenced for his role in prison riot

Rosie Mullaley
Published on April 4, 2014
Justin Hopkins - Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A man who was involved in a riot that led to a hostage-taking at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) in St. John’s last summer has been sentenced to a year and 15 days in jail.

“It was pretty stupid what I did,” Justin Hopkins said before sentencing today at provincial court in St. John’s.

The 30-year-old had pleaded guilty to mischief by causing property damage exceeding $5,000.

The sentence, handed down by Judge David Orr, included a year’s probation.

The incident happened in August 2013 while Hopkins was in custody on a robbery charge.

He was one of a group of inmates who went on a rampage that caused close to $100,000 in damage to the HMP’s 3B unit.

When police arrived, some inmates were yelling through the window that they had hostages.

One inmate told a negotiator that if they didn’t get cigarettes, they were going to cut the hostages’ throats.

When officers delivered the cigarettes, the hostages were released. The inmates surrendered shortly afterwards.

Hopkins told the judge he had been drinking alcohol that day, apparently concocted from various food ingredients at the prison.

Hopkins said he hopes this will be the last time he’s in court.

The other five inmates who were charged have also had their cases heard.

Julian Matthew Squires, 26, pleaded guilty to hostage-taking, as well as mischief by causing property damage exceeding $5,000. He was given an 18-month jail term.

Justin Owens, 24, and Philip James Hollihan, 28, pleaded guilty to obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use or operation of property. Owens was sentenced to six months in jail. Hollihan will be sentenced April 15.

Justin Wiseman, 22, and Adam Hayden, 26, are in the middle of their preliminary inquiry.

Hopkins also pleaded guilty to a charge of mischief by causing property damage under $5,000, which stemmed from an incident that pre-dated the riot. He smashed out a window at a woman’s apartment on Weymouth Street.

During Hopkins’ sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Shawn Patten suggested a sentence of between 11 1/2 months and 15 1/2 months. Defence lawyer Jeff Brace said eight to 10 months in jail was more reasonable.

Hopkins will serve his sentence consecutively with the sentence he was given for the robbery. He has one year left to serve on that term.

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