10 November 2022

Ex-gang member Damien Featherstone sentenced for taking detainee hostage at Canberra jail

| Albert McKnight
Man in car talking selfie

Damien Glenn Featherstone, 34, has been handed an extra four years’ jail. Photo: Facebook.

A notorious former criminal gang member has been handed an extra four years’ jail for crimes that included taking another detainee hostage at blade-point in Canberra’s jail.

When officers at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) looked inside Damien Glenn Featherstone’s cell on the morning of 27 March 2021, they saw him holding a makeshift blade against the throat of his victim, court documents say.

Featherstone said phrases like: “Don’t come any closer; if you do, I will stab him, get out” and, “If anybody steps into this cell, I’m cutting his throat.”

He also demanded to see his psychologist and to get his medications. At one point, he pinned his victim to the cell bed and said something like, “I’m going to do it”.

Featherstone allowed his victim to leave about two hours after the incident began when the man said he was interested in converting to Islam, which Featherstone practised himself.

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When officers searched Featherstone, they found a couple of makeshift weapons, one with two razor blades and another with a sharpened piece of wood.

In court documents, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Williamson SC said this offending caused a critical incident in the prison, resulting in a stand-off between Featherstone and the officers, who had to bring in a specialist negotiator.

He also had to be sentenced for a prison bashing on 1 November 2020, which partly involved bikie murderer Frederick Elijah Mercy Tuifua.

In the incident that Mr Williamson described as “frenzied, ferocious and vicious”, a detainee was attacked by five others in the AMC’s exercise yards.

Featherstone used a shiv to slash the man’s face, stomped on him and slashed the back of his head. Then, when officers intervened, he pointed his shiv at them and said, “f-k off, or I’ll get you”.

Mr Williamson argued this attack was cowardly as it was on an unsuspecting and unprepared victim who was defenceless and overwhelmed by the number of offenders involved.

Featherstone ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully confining another person, making a demand with a threat to kill, joint commission assault, assaulting a frontline community service provider and detainee in possession of a prohibited item over the two incidents.

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In his sentencing remarks released on Tuesday (8 November), the ACT Supreme Court’s Justice Michael Elkaim noted Featherstone had spent much of his life in custody of one form or another.

“However, he is only 34 years of age and his future must not be determined entirely by his past,” he said.

“There must be some hope given to him of entering and remaining in society.”

In 2019, the Supreme Court sentenced him to seven years and nine months’ jail for a series of offences ending in 2025.

On Tuesday, Justice Elkaim found special circumstances existed and the sentences for these fresh offences could be partially concurrent with his existing one.

He handed Featherstone, who the court heard is being held in NSW’s Long Bay Correctional Complex, an extra four years’ jail, so he will now be released in November 2029.

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