A prisoner flooded his cell, set fire to it, then set a fire in the second cell to which he had been moved.

Duncan Gleeson, 27, who has spent the last two years in custody for a catalogue of assaults on prison officers despite having originally only received an eight month sentence for aggravated vehicle taking.

On Monday (May 23), Oxford Crown Court heard that the Portsmouth man had struggled with his mental health – and particularly post-traumatic stress disorder – since his remand into custody.

It prompted the judge, Recorder Samantha Presland, to sound her concerns about psychiatric support for those behind bars.

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Sentencing, she said the HMP Bullingdon matters, which dated back to April 2021, should have been dealt with in the summer of that year when Gleeson was sentenced for unrelated offending while in prison.

But she added that her ‘bigger concern’ was with ‘how his mental health difficulties are being dealt with in prison’.

Recorder Presland added: “I can’t really get involved in that.”

It is not the first time the Recorder, who sits on-and-off at Oxford Crown Court as a part-time judge, has flagged fears about the psychiatric support offered to those within the prison system.

In March, she told barristers involved in the case of a man who armed himself with a hammer and threatened to kill his landlords that she was ‘stunned’ that no bed could be found for man in a psychiatric hospital.

He’s not even got medication. That’s what’s shocking,” the judge added.

On Monday, the court heard that on April 7, 2021, Gleeson was behaving in a ‘challenging manner’ as he was being returned to his cell from the exercise yard. He punched the prison officer accompanying him then kicked him when he was down.

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Two days later, on April 9, he flooded his cell then set fire to it using what prosecutor Mike Hollis described as an ‘improvised lighter’.

He was moved to a different cell on the segregation unit and set a fire in the new lock-up as well. Both cells had to be repainted, the court heard.

On April 12, Gleeson assaulted another prison officer when he was asked to put on a surgical face mask. The guard was left with ‘concussion and pain in the jaw’.

Searching the inmate’s cell, the officers found a makeshift weapon, fashioned from a plastic cutlery knife. He was said to have created the weapon in order to defend himself.


In mitigation, the defendant was said to ‘readily admit what he did’. His poor mental health at the time was the reason he committed the offences, the judge was told.

Giving him 10 months’ imprisonment, which he has already served on remand, Recorder Presland said: “It seems and is clear from your behaviour there were obviously significant mental health difficulties at the time.”

Gleeson, of HMP Bristol, pleaded guilty last December to arson, criminal damage, assaults on emergency workers and possession of a weapon in prison.