British Columbia

Inmate killed in B.C. prison riot

Rioting at a federal prison in Agassiz, B.C., on Saturday night has left one inmate dead, another in hospital, and the medium-security facility in lockdown.

Victim was serving time for child pornography offences

Rioting at a federal prison in Agassiz, B.C., on Saturday night has left one inmate dead, another in hospital, and the medium-security facility in lockdown.

No staff members were injured.

Corrections Canada spokesman Dave Lefebvre said Sunday the incident at Mountain Institution began just before 10 p.m. when some inmates in the prison's gym began breaking windows. The inmates threatened staff members and later assaulted other inmates.

Michael Andrew Gibbon, 39, who was beaten to death in the incident, was serving a sentence for child pornography offences. Lefebvre said it's unclear whether Gibbon was attacked or was simply caught up randomly in the violence.

"What I can tell you is that it's far too early in the investigation to make any determination as to what precipitated this disturbance," Lefebvre told reporters Sunday.

"The integrated homicide investigation team is on scene investigating the death of an inmate. The Correctional Services of Canada will be conducting its own investigation with regards to the actual disturbance."

The institution suffered some damage and was in lockdown Sunday to facilitate the cleanup and a search of the whole institution, Lefebvre said.

He said it's too early to determine how many of the inmates were involved, but added the figure was in the "dozens, not hundreds."

Gibbon was arrested in March 1997 for his activities in what became known as the "Bridal Falls Pornography Operation."

Police seized 53 rolls of undeveloped film, three videocassette recorders, computer equipment, more than 400 videotapes, 15 CD-ROMs and 41 floppy disks.

Mountain Institution is a medium security facility, 120 kilometres east of Vancouver, operated by the Correctional Service of Canada. It houses almost 500 federally sentenced male inmates.

Saturday's incident is the latest in series of troubles at the institution.

The prison was locked down and visits cancelled in January after food services staff discovered blades from two kitchen knives had been snapped off and were missing. The prison was searched during the lockdown.

Two weeks before that, a prisoner was assaulted in the same gym where Saturday's disturbance began.

As well, several prisoners have died of natural causes or suicides at the institution since 2004.

On March 17, 2007,  a man convicted of sex offences involving children was found dead in his Mountain Institution cell. James Patrick Jones, 55, was found unresponsive in his cell by prison guards.

Corrections Canada spokesman Dennis Finlay said at the time there was nothing to suggest Jones died of anything but natural causes.

Jones was convicted in the 1987 first-degree murder and sexual assault of three-year-old Stacie Harker.

With files from the Canadian Press