Prison fail: Witness put in cell with alleged killer, bashed
THE star witness in a gangland murder prosecution was left "bashed, bruised and battered" after bungling guards placed him in the same jail cell as the accused killer he had snitched on.
His injuries meant he was unable to face Wollongong Local Court yesterday where he was due to give evidence against the man charged with murder, a well-known Victorian underbelly figure.
Despite non-association orders sent to Corrective Services NSW, several sources say the witness and the accused murderer ended up in the same area at Silverwater Metropolitan and Remand Centre on Tuesday, ahead of a scheduled committal hearing yesterday.
News Corp Australia understands the witness was beaten after the accused called him a "dog" but it is not clear who carried out the assault.
Up to a dozen inmates can be held in the same holding cells at Silverwater before they are transported to various courts across Sydney.
A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman confirmed an inmate had been treated for "minor injuries" and said an internal investigation was underway, including the reviewing of CCTV.
One source said despite the witness being "bashed, bruised and battered", Corrective Service officers still put him in the same truck with the accused killer before transporting them both from Silverwater to Wollongong.
It is understood the witness and the man charged with murder then spent Tuesday night in separate holding cells at Wollongong. Yesterday gasps and whispers filled the hallways of Wollongong Local Court after the family of the alleged victim were told that the alleged killer, and a co-accused who is on bail, would not face a committal hearing because the key witness could not attend.
Crown prosecutor David Scully asked for the matter to be adjourned as the victim's family sat in the back of the courtroom.
"This was listed for a committal hearing specifically for a witness to give evidence … that witness is not in a fit state to give evidence today or for the next few days," Mr Scully said.
Magistrate Mark Douglass said the incident was "a clear reason why the matter cannot proceed and I will grant the application''.
Minister for Corrections David Elliott said he had demanded an immediate explanation from Corrective Services about the incident and "reassurance that it will not be repeated", while Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said the security failures would be looked into.
"Corrective Services NSW has launched a full investigation into allegations of an inmate on inmate assault,'' he said yesterday.