Corrections officials say they don’t know if the stabbing of an inmate sparked Tuesday night’s riot at the Central Nova Correctional Centre in Burnside.

One prisoner was stabbed in three places during a clash with two other men in a north unit common room, corrections services executive director David Horner confirmed yesterday at a news conference.

The injured prisoner was sent to hospital and released a couple of hours later. He even made a scheduled court appearance yesterday morning on another matter. But it was shortly after the stabbing that the situation broke down.

As per usual policy, the centre went into complete lockdown after the stabbing. But a group of 17 inmates in the west unit common room refused to comply. Staff isolated the room as the inmates trashed windows, sprinklers and recreation equipment.

“I have no information at this time that would suggest there’s a connection here,” said Horner, referring to the earlier stabbing.

Some men covered their faces by using t-shirts and towels as masks and also used wet paper towels to cover security cameras. There were initial reports that projectile weapons were involved but Horner said he could neither confirm nor deny this.

Police were called but never entered the facility. Horner said they were there in the unlikely event someone managed to escape through the broken windows that he estimated were six inches wide.

Eventually a team of armoured guards entered the room and the prisoners returned to their cells. A little under three hours after it started, the riot was over. Horner said he did not believe there was any direct contact between the guards and prisoners and no pepper spray or batons were used.

Much of the jail remains in lockdown as police investigate and search for the weapon used in the stabbing.

Horner said it’s too soon to say what criminal charges may be pending.

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