Two prisoners have been found guilty of bashing another inmate after an argument over a tattoo gun, despite the difficulties the prosecution faced with the culture against “snitching” behind bars.
It appeared at least one of them, 27-year-old Brendon Walters, did not think much of the verdict after it was delivered.
“I’m appealing this s-t anyway, so f-k it,” he called to his co-accused Cedric Roberts, 23, over their audio visual links before being led away.
“Love you, bro.”
They were found guilty of assault in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (4 November) after the case had been heard numerous times over the year, starting in March.
When delivering her verdict, Special Magistrate Jane Campbell said she accepted the account by the victim’s cellmate and long-time friend, Rhys Dugdale.
Dugdale said he and the victim were in their cell at the Alexander Maconochie Centre 16 December 2018 when the duo came in and pushed him towards the shower.
Walters told the victim, “You think I’m a gronk? Treat me like a gronk, put me on show?”
Dugdale said Walters kicked the man in the head, Roberts stomped on him, then they both pulled him off the bed and stomped on his arm.
Dugdale said he tried to tell them to stop, but claimed Roberts turned on him and said “stay the f-k out of it or you’re next”.
Walters and Roberts left the cell after 90 seconds after which multiple other detainees also entered, in what Dugdale called “flooding the cell”.
This means sending numerous detainees into a cell so it was unclear to authorities who actually committed an assault inside it, a practice Magistrate Campbell said was clearly designed to hamper investigations.
In March, the victim told the court that before the assault Walters had entered his cell “a little bit hot and bothered” over a tattoo gun the man had allegedly agreed to make.
He said he took the tattoo gun to show to Roberts, told him it was unfinished and said he himself would be the first to get a tattoo as he was the one making it.
Magistrate Campbell said when Dugdale was asked why he didn’t call in jail staff early to help his friend, he replied he still had some time to spend behind bars and if he did call them that time would be made more difficult.
She said he also spoke about the culture against naming people while in prison.
“You just don’t do that. This has tarnished my name for the rest of my life,” he said.
Magistrate Campbell also noted the difficulties the case saw in getting detainees to give evidence.
For instance, one only admitted he had gone into the victim’s cell during the “flooding” after he had been shown closed-circuit television footage of him doing so.
Another agreed he spent two minutes in the cell after the assault, but had “no recollection of the day altogether”, Magistrate Campbell said.
She said the fact detainees claimed to have no memory of the incident showed the culture against “snitching” exists and is “clearly very powerful”.
Magistrate Campbell said the co-accused’s lawyers claimed Dugdale named them as the attackers to divert attention from himself as the assailant, but she ultimately found Dugdale was a credible witness and that CCTV corroborated his evidence.
She adjourned the matter to 15 February 2022 for sentencing and remanded Roberts and Walters in custody until then.