The Northern Territory government and penitentiary staff have admitted to using capsicum spray during a riot at the Darwin Correctional Center in May 2020, but have denied claims that two inmates are entitled to compensation for ill-treatment after the violence broke out.
- Prisoners Matej Vanko and Jefferson Bradshaw seek compensation from the NT Government and NT Correctional Services
- The two were serving prison sentences when they allegedly took part in a riot at the Darwin Correctional Center
- The NT government and the Danish Prison and Probation Service have largely denied the alleged abuse
Matej Vanko and Jefferson Bradshaw have filed separate claims against Northern Territory in Australia, general manager of Darwin Prison and Commissioner for Corrections, claiming they were subjected to assault, battery and false imprisonment in the wake of riots.
Legal documents said the damage in the jail from May 13, 2020 riots would likely exceed $ 20 million.
Vanko was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for the “cold, calculated and insensitive” murder of Donald Stevens as well as minor crimes against Stevens’ sister.
Bradshaw was jailed in December 2019 for driving offenses.
In a statement of claim filed with the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Vanko said “he felt he would die” after Correctional Services staff allegedly inserted capsicum spray directly into his face during riots.
While in a statement about the defense to the court, the defendants admitted to having inserted CS spray while prisoners were on the roof of the facility’s training building, they denied that Vanko was injured as a result.
Vanko said he was then placed in solitary confinement and remained so after being moved from Darwin to Alice Springs Correctional Center.
Documents claimed he was denied access to fresh drinking water and was forced to defecate, urinate, eat and bathe in his cell.
Vanko further claimed that he was subjected to “harassment by other prisoners regarding his body and the size of his genitals” after his clothes were cut by him by detectives when he was detained for beating his cell.
“The plaintiff … has been the subject of sexual ridicule and bullying,” the statement said.
The NT government and the Correctional Services admitted to removing Vanko’s clothes, but denied other allegations.
The court documents claimed that Vanko was “left as a tortured animal” and was “vulnerable”, “traumatized” and “humiliated”.
Bradshaw claimed he was subjected to similar treatment while in solitary confinement, claiming he “was not allowed to use cutlery”, “did not have access to a toothbrush” and for about five months was “deprived of all sugar and tea”.
Bradshaw further claimed that prison staff used force when he transferred him to the medical building after the prison uprising, where one allegedly told him “I have to pinch my teeth to the ground and crack the skull up”.
Corrections denied the allegation, saying Bradshaw “repeatedly lost his weight” while being escorted to a cell.
In response to further allegations of force, Corrections said: “The plaintiff bit a correctional officer on the thumb and was held on the ground to ensure his compliance”.
Bradshaw said he was “in a position of particular vulnerability” to the detectives because of his aborigine.
The NT government and NT Correctional Services said they were “not civil liable” in relation to Jefferson’s claims and denied that Vanko was entitled to compensation.