Prison Officers plea for new laws

  • 6 January 2024

Our NSW Public Service Association is advocating for the implementation of national laws to ensure the protection of officers using lethal weapons following the death of an inmate.  NSW Public Service Association’s general secretary Stewart Little said while the case happened in his state there were implications for prison officers and other law enforcers nationally in use of force.  Moving high-risk convicted criminals through the community for medical, legal or funeral attendance will need new laws to give officers confidence to use lethal force to prevent an escape he said.

A NSW Corrective Services officer, identified only as Officer A, was charged with murder after in March 2019 shooting dead prisoner Dwayne Johnstone who was attempting to escape custody during a visit to Lismore Hospital.

Johnstone was a violent offender with a long criminal history including knifing a female police officer in Victoria and was on remand for cattle prodding a man in NSW.  Officer A was found not guilty last month with a jury finding he had acted within the laws governing the use of force.

But Mr Little said police found he had no case to answer but the fact he was charged with murder by a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) demanded national laws to protect officers doing their job.

There was also a similar case in Victoria several years ago in which that officer was also eventually exonerated.