Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Prison guard in civil assault case

Mr Angelos, when kicked during a cell search a NSW prison guard broke two of his ribbs and smashed his head against the wall after forcing him to kneel with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

Sydney's District Court has heard a prison officer and a colleague have received threats from other prison guards since they broke ranks to give evidence in support of a former prisoner at Parramatta Jail, Edward Angelos, who alleges prison guard Joshua Peterson, 41 beat him in his cell in December 2005 while he was serving periodic detention for driving offence.

Judge Ray McLaughlan has suppressed the names of the prison officers as they give evidence in a civil case that 41-year-old Mr Angelos has launched against the state of NSW.

And the case against him may rest on another kind of "dog": the spiteful moniker allegedly given to a whistleblowing prison guard who has dared to give evidence against Mr Peterson.

Mr Angelos, of Redfern, alleges two of his ribs were broken when Mr Peterson kicked him during a search of cells. He also claims Mr Peterson smashed his head against the wall after forcing him to kneel with his hands handcuffed behind his back during the search for drugs by the Corrective Services Drug Dog Detection Unit.

Judge McLaughlan has reserved his decision in Mr Angelos's civil assault action, and will bring down his finding on November 11.

At the time, Mr Angelos was serving midweek periodic detention. His cell was not among those listed to be searched, his barrister, Sophie Walsh, told Judge McLaughlan.

Mr Peterson had been charged with criminal assault over the alleged attack, but this was dismissed in a local court.

The whistleblowing officers did not give evidence in the criminal case.

Mr Angelos's claim for $40,000 in damages would not have been believed had it not been for the two prison guards coming forward, Ms Walsh says.

One of the officers, codenamed CW1, told of being called "a dog" daily by other guards.

Judge McLaughlan agreed that other prison officers who took part in the cell searches had an attitude of "saw no evil, heard no evil" when they were called to give evidence.

Ms Walsh told the court that prison guards were given powers of restraint and force, but "this was a complete abuse of those powers".

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