A prisoner trashed his cell, had to be dragged away by staff in riot gear and then racially abused a black nurse – despite claiming he’s not racist and has converted to Islam.
Lee Hipson began to harm himself and smash up his cell when he was not given his medication due to “being under the influence of an unknown substance”.
The 28-year-old put a broken TV and squeezed tubes of paint through a broken hatch in his cell door, until a team of five staff with protective helmets and shields arrived to take him to a segregation area.
But when a nurse arrived to assess him, Hipson lashed out with a tirade of racist verbal abuse, leaving the woman in tears.
Fiscal depute Lynne MacVicar told Aberdeen Sheriff Court Hipson had been placed on 15-minute observations and kept locked in his cell due to being under the influence of an unknown substance at around 7am on March 4 2020.
She said: “The accused was not pleased to learn he would not receive his medication.”
‘Escalating erratic and destructive behaviour’
As a result he cut his arms and face with a razor and began to damage and break various items in the cell, including the glass observation panel in the door.
Due to the commotion, the other prisoners in the section had to remain locked up during breakfast and medication time, disrupting the morning routine.
Hipson put a broken TV and other fixtures and fittings through the cell door hatch.
He even squeezed tubes of paint, which he’s been given as part of an arts and crafts programme to benefit his mental health, through the hatch onto the floor “making the entire section a slip hazard”.
Ms MacVicar said: “He continued to do this while staff endeavoured to clean up the floor. This took most of the morning to clean up and resulted in prisoners within the section having to remain locked within their cells.”
Due to Hipson’s “escalating erratic and destructive behaviour”, a “removal team” of five prison officers in full protective equipment was sent in to move him to the segregation unit.
At 9am a nurse attended the unit and was asked to assess Hipson, but as soon as he saw her he began screaming racial abuse towards her.
Ms MacVicar said: “This left the complainer upset and crying and she was advised by one of the prison officers to leave the area as she should not be subjected to that type of abuse.”
She had to take an immediate break from work and, when giving a statement the following day, said she still felt upset and emotional and had been “really traumatised”.
Hipson went on to cause further damage in the cell he was now in.
The cost of dealing with the damage caused by Hipson that day, including labour, was £2,100.41.
In a separate incident on May 19 last year, staff heard banging coming from Hipson’s cell and found that he’d broken a window, enabling him to drop his belongings from it onto the ground beneath.
He was moved to another cell, and the cost of dealing with that damage was just under £700.
‘I don’t want to make any excuses for my actions’
And in another incident on June 24 2020 prison staff smelled smoke from Hipson’s cell, and discovered a chair and kettle had been burned.
There was also burning toilet paper and paper towels.
Staff initially put out the fire but, as Hipson continued to start fires, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were asked to attend.
The cost of dealing with the damage on that occasion was £746.82.
Hipson, a prisoner of HMP Grampian, pled guilty to two charges of malicious mischief, one of wilful fireraising and one of acting in a racially aggravated manner.
Defence agent Simon Collins said his client had limited recollection of events and initially had “great difficulty” accepting he had made the racial comments.
He said Hipson had not received his medication, which helps to keep him calm, the night before the March 4 offence, as well as the morning in question.
Hipson, who appeared via a video link from prison, then put his hand up and said: “I don’t want to make any excuses for my actions. There’s no excuse for that and I understand that.”
Mr Collins went on to say his client is not racist, adding: “He tells me he himself has converted to the Muslim religion.”
He said Hipson had had issues in his childhood, and had “never had any meaningful life at liberty”.
Sheriff Andrew Miller handed Hipson a 12-month jail sentence.