A BLACKPOOL fire bug tried to dig his way to freedom through a prison chimney breast after plotting a Colditz-style escape bid.
Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary arsonist Jordan Morgan and resort man David Crossfield kicked at a chimney facade at Preston Prison before using a drawer runner to scrape away at the mortar surrounding the brickwork of the original Victorian chimney underneath.
The teenagers hid the rubble in clothing, within a pair of tracksuit bottoms which had their legs and top tied in a knot.
The duo then placed the pieces of brick back into the hole they had made, along with a bucket of rubble.
Through the hole they could have gained access to an enclosed area, not far from the prison’s outer walls.
When shown pictures of the damage at Preston Crown Court, Judge Andrew Long said: “It looks a bit Colditz doesn’t it?”
Crossfield and Morgan shared the cell at the complex for two weeks earlier this year.
It is believed the pair of 18-year-olds carried out the digging over 24 hours, before Morgan revealed the “fanciful” escape plan to prison staff on April 7.
Silvia Dacre, prosecuting, said Morgan asked another prisoner to tell a prison officer there was a hole in the wall of their cell.
She said: “When they went in they found there was a large hole in the chimney breast, and that rubble had been removed.
“Behind the facade of the chimney breast, the original brickwork had been tampered with.
“It was then possible to gain access to the chimney and to an external area, which could have in theory enabled access to an enclosed area, not far from the perimeter of the prison.”
Crossfield was on remand in prison on an allegation of burglary, which was eventually left on file, and was soon set for release.
Morgan was awaiting sentencing for a series of drunken arson attacks across the Fylde, in which he and an accomplice started fires at locations, including Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary and Fylde Scout Headquarters, killing 26 animals and causing damage running into tens of thousands of pounds.
After the discovery was made, the two prisoners were taken from the cell and segregated.
Miss Dacre added: “They confirmed they had used bodily force to break through the chimney breast and removed rubble, and had hidden it.”
Both Crossfield and Morgan pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage, after the prosecution decided to drop a charge of aiding a prisoner to escape.
Miss Dacre said: “In interview, they both suggested they were under duress from one another.
“When possible pleas were considered, it was decided that in reality they may have had some rather Colditz-inspired notion of escape, but in reality this was so fanciful it was really not a realistic attempt.”
Crossfield, from Blackpool but whose address was given only as HMP Preston, was sentenced to two months in prison, less 37 days he had spent in custody.
Morgan, formerly of Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, was also sentenced to two months in prison.
His term will run concurrent to an existing indefinite prison sentence for the arson attacks carried out in March last year. He will serve a minimum of three years and two-and-a-half months in jail before he can apply for release.
A spokesman for HMP Preston said the incident was now the subject of an internal investigation.
Colditz Castle in Germany was used as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War for Allied officers who repeatedly attempted to escape.