25 July 2021

Inmate attacks guards with frying pan and causes more than $20,000 in damage to cells, equipment

| Albert McKnight
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Alexander Maconochie Centre

Cedric Boyd Roberts will be sentenced over several incidents at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. File photo.

After a handcuffed inmate at Canberra’s jail used a frying pan to hit his guards, he spat blood into another’s face as he was escorted away.

Cedric Boyd Roberts was supposed to be sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (23 July) over three separate incidents in the Alexander Maconochie Centre between 2017 and 2019, but his sentencing was delayed until later this year.

This delay attracted the ire of the 23-year-old, who appeared in the courtroom over the audiovisual link from the Goulburn Correctional Centre.

“Why can’t I be sentenced today?” he asked.

“I’ve been waiting for years to get sentenced.

“F–k me.”

Documents previously tendered to the court show corrections officers were escorting Roberts into the jail’s kitchen on 16 August 2019 to show him where alleged contraband had been found.

Roberts, handcuffed in front of his body, walked ahead of the officers around an island bench and grabbed a 45 cm-long double-handled electric fry pan.

An officer asked him to drop it, but instead, he swung it at the guard, hitting him on the arm.

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While the officers pulled it away from him, he managed to use it to hit another on the arm as well.

As Roberts was being escorted away, he turned and spat blood and saliva onto the face and neck of a guard behind him.

This officer had to undergo mandatory testing to ensure he hadn’t contracted any communicable diseases.

A previous incident occurred at the jail on 8 September 2017. Police labelled it a “disturbance” involving five detainees, including Roberts. Several cells were damaged and a corrections officer was assaulted.

At about 5:00 pm that day, an officer saw Roberts and another inmate holding a flaming bedsheet by its corners in their cell. He grabbed the sheet, threw it onto the common room floor, then told the two to get out of their cell as it was full of smoke.

But Roberts punched this officer in the face, splitting his lip.

Later that night, officers found he had smashed the glass viewing panel of a different cell’s door. Asked why he did what would later be found to cost almost $9500 to repair, he said: “I’m doing head miles and need to go to CSU so I don’t hurt myself.”

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He was taken to the Crisis Support Unit (CSU). The damage to the first cell he was in that evening would be found to cost about $8500 to repair.

The third incident was discovered at about 10:00 pm on 4 November 2018 when corrective services officers found Roberts alone in a cell that had extensive damage caused to its window area.

Roberts was sitting on the lower bunk, looking at an injury to his hand.

After he was removed from the cell, officers found more damage within it, including that the in-room computer and television had been smashed. The total damage cost about $3500.

Roberts had been scheduled to be sentenced on Friday over charges of assault and damaging property.

His lawyer, Darryl Perkins, said his client had been in custody for various reasons over the last five-and-a-half years and sought an opportunity to come back into the community.

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Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the sentencing so it could take place after an upcoming appeal hearing had been held.

He noted he was not surprised that anyone who had been in custody for such a long time was “keen to move on”.

Roberts will be sentenced on 15 September.

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