A fourth man has been sentenced for his role in the riot at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's last August.

Philip Hollihan's role in the riot — which caused about $95,000 in damage — was minimal, but was enough to warrant an eight-month sentence at provincial court on Tuesday.

During the riot, which also included a hostage-taking, inmates tore down ceilings, ripped off doors and smashed windows and flooring.

No evidence was presented at trial to show that Hollihan had played a part in the destruction, although he admitted to throwing butter at the security camera in his unit, which led to a mischief charge.

Crown attorney Shawn Patten, who suggested that Hollihan get a sentence between eight and 12 months, said "destructive or obstructive behaviour [in prison] calls for an extended period of imprisonment."

But defence lawyer Andrew Conway said his client had "no significant involvement" in what happened.

Defence sought lower sentence

Hollihan testified that since the incident, he has been on the maximum security unit at HMP, and is only allowed out of his cell for one hour a day, to shower, walk around, but is not allowed to use the gym or recreational facilities.

'If you treat people like animals, they will act like animals' - Philip Hollihan

Quoting a UN resolution on the treatment of prisoners, Conway suggested Hollihan's situation might be used to lessen his sentence. Conway suggested six months.

Before sentencing, Judge David Orr asked Hollihan if he had anything to say.

Hollihan replied, "If you treat people like animals, they will act like animals."

He added, "I'm sorry for my actions."

Orr said while there was no proof Hollihan played a role in all the damage, he did take part in obscuring the camera, which meant that officials could not see what was going on in that area. As well, he noted that Hollihan was part of the overall group.

Two other inmates are still facing charges over the incident.