Guard threatened 'to take me to the toilet and kick my head in'

Updated March 14, 2017 01:24:08

The royal commission into youth detention has heard from a detainee who said he was choked against the wall by a guard when he arrived at centre in Alice Springs.

The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory began hearings in Alice Springs on Monday and has started hearing from former detainees.

In this morning's evidence the commission heard from former detainee Jamal Turner, now aged 20, who was housed several times in youth detention in Alice Springs while in his teens.

Mr Turner said when he was 13 or 14 he arrived at the Aranda House facility, after he had earlier run away from the Bush Mob program.

Guard 'grabbed me by throat'

He said when he was driven in to Aranda House it was like entering a cage and that it felt like a maximum security adult prison.

When he was being walked in, wearing handcuffs, he said he saw a dog he knew from an earlier time at Aranda House.

"Because I went to pat the dog, and because he [a guard] was holding me at the time he thought I was trying to escape custody," Mr Turner said.

"He grabbed me by the throat and choked me up against the wall."

The hearing was then told that the guard in question had said Mr Turner kicked the dog.

"I went to pat the dog, I didn't kick the dog," he replied.

'I was assaulted a couple of times'

Mr Turner also described being "kicked up the arse" by a guard that was known to "snap" easily and seeing young teenagers kneed in the back.

"They just used more force than they should have used really, like a knee in the back.

"I was assaulted a couple of times, but not as much as a couple of other people," he said.

Guard threatened to 'take him to the toilet'

In other evidence, Mr Turner described an incident at the Alice Springs Juvenile Detention Centre where a guard threatened to take a young detainee to the toilet and "kick his f***ing head in".

When he intervened, Mr Turner said the guard then threatened him.

"He just snapped at me and said 'you wanna go too? I will kick your f***ing head in, in the toilet."

Mr Turner grabbed the guard and held him against the wall, before he was tackled to the ground.

He said he believed the threat to take detainees to the toilet was because there were no security cameras in that part of the facility.

The royal commission was called in July by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after what he described as "shocking" vision of the treatment of teenagers aired by the ABC's Four Corners.

This week's focus is on Alice Springs, but some child detainees who were from the town have been housed in Darwin's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre or in the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre, or both at different times.

Claims detainee taken to 'abandoned' facility, left for 80 hours

Mr Turner also said in another incident he was wrongly accused of yelling out, and when he was confined to his cell as punishment he kicked the door.

He said two guards, Derek Taser and Barry Clee, then rushed into his cell with shields and bats.

Mr Turner said he was taken to Aranda House, which by that stage had closed down and looked abandoned.

"There were bugs everywhere and ants crawling around under the door," he said.

"The room was covered in thick dust and dirt and there was even a dead mouse stuck to my mattress in my cell.

"This is the time when I was kept in isolation for 80 hours."

Accusations against guard

Former shift supervisor at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, Trevor Hansen, also gave evidence on Monday and was questioned at length by the senior counsel assisting the royal commission, Peter Callaghan, SC.

Mr Hansen was asked about two incidents involving 15-year-old girls at Don Dale.

Mr Hansen agreed with evidence he had to forcibly hold one of the girls down in her cell while her outer garments were removed by a female officer, at one stage putting her in an arm lock, and later a leg lock.

He also agreed he had struggled with another girl who he said was talking about trying to get on top of the school and escape. She later made a written complaint.

Asked about whether he administered "wedgies" to prisoners, and lifted them off the ground when trying to move them, Mr Hansen denied doing that.

He said one-person escorts, which were known to other guards as wedgies, involved holding detainees shorts and sleeves, or arms, and guiding them forward.

Protest outside royal commission

Outside the royal commission, a small crowd of gathered to protest the conditions in NT detention centres.

Dylan Voller, who sprang to prominence after an image of him shackled with a spit hood over his head was broadcast by the ABC, spoke to media.

He refused to comment on a reported "kill list" he is said to have made while in detention, but said he wanted to use his voice at the protest.

"Everyone else around the country and around the world supported me, so it is my time to give back while I have an open voice," Mr Voller said.

Topics:royal-commissions, youth, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, law-crime-and-justice, alice-springs-0870, darwin-0800

First posted March 13, 2017 10:57:46

Read more http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-13/youth-detention-royal-commission-shifts-focus-to-alice-springs/8348748