Officers stood down after attack in Newcastle cells

THREE Corrective Services officers have been stood down and one will be sentenced next month following a serious assault in the Newcastle Courthouse cells.

An officer lashed out when an inmate who suffers from hepatitis C spat in his face on October 17 last year after the inmate was detained for domestic violence offences.

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Video courtesy of Channel Ten

The officer was caught on camera repeatedly punching the inmate while two officers were nearby.

The inmate was later offered medical treatment, but he declined despite receiving a number of blows to the face.

The three officers were stood down by Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham within an hour of the commissioner being notified.

He has since ordered a review of the department’s policy on use of force.

“There is no excuse for this type of incident,” Commissioner Woodham said.

“The department took the necessary action following this incident. All three officers were stood down within an hour.”

The inmate was charged with assault in relation to the spitting and was subsequently sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.

The officer pleaded guilty to the assault last month and will be sentenced in May.

The prison officers’ union spokesman, Matt Bindley, said it was a spontaneous reaction from the officer.

‘‘What I hope the public understands is that this officer has responded spontaneously to an incident [being spat on by a hepatitis C sufferer] that could have changed his life,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel for these officers ... I think the community at large aren’t going to understand it.’’

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