Prison staff may strike over jailing of colleague

CORRECTIVE Services staff could start industrial action as early as today after a Hunter prison guard was jailed yesterday for assaulting a prisoner in the holding cells of Newcastle Courthouse.

In Toronto Local Court yesterday, senior officer Terry Dolling was jailed for seven months with a non-parole period of four months for assaulting a prisoner who spat in his face.

The prisoner was known to be infected with hepatitis C.

Mr Dolling was released on bail by magistrate Jennifer Atkinson after indicating he would appeal against the sentence.

‘‘There is no disputing that spitting in someone’s face and eye is a dreadful thing,’’ the magistrate said, but such matters ‘‘should be left to the appropriate authorities to deal with’’.

Late yesterday, Mr Dolling’s wife Sandra said she had been stunned by the sentence but wanted to publicly thank family, friends and colleagues of her husband for their support.

The October 17 assault made headlines when graphic video footage was released anonymously by someone within the Department of Corrective Services.

The footage shows Mr Dolling speaking with colleagues outside Newcastle cells before a prisoner spits in his face through a cell’s vertical bars. Mr Dolling is then seen entering the prisoner’s cell, punching him and dragging him to the ground.

Police documents filed to an earlier court hearing said the prisoner ‘‘by his own admission, had become angry and pissed off’’ before spitting through the bars.

Public Service Association president Matt Bindley said the sentence given to Mr Dolling had infuriated the union and other Corrective Services staff.

‘‘There will be industrial action across the state within 24 hours to protest at how one of our members has been treated,’’ Mr Bindley said.

‘‘We do jobs that no one cares to know about until something like this happens,’’ he said.

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