No drug culture in prison: guard

A CORONIAL inquest into the heroin overdose death of a Junee Correctional Centre inmate has heard little was done in the wake of the incident to improve centre procedures. 

Two correctional service officers who found inmate Anthony James Van Rysewyk dead in his minimum security cell on May 8, 2011 gave evidence yesterday with one saying they had to watch the news on Monday to discover the cause of the inmate’s death. 

Retired correctives officer Josef Domski told deputy state coroner Sharon Freund he was also not aware of any improvements or reviews of security or inmate check procedures following Mr Van Rysewyk’s death. 

He also denied any knowledge of the centre having a strong drug culture among inmates, saying he had never come across an inmate in possession of drugs, but had heard rumours of drugs being brought in. 

The night before Mr Van Rysewyk’s death, Mr Domski said he noticed nothing out of the ordinary with the prisoner, remarking the pair had joked about the football.

Fellow guard on duty that night Kim Jenkins said he also noticed nothing out of the ordinary. 

The evidence was in contradiction to claims made by inmates on Monday, who said Mr Van Rysewyk was clearly in a heavily intoxicated state. 

The training of correctional officers in detecting inmates under the influence of drugs was also brought into question. 

Both Mr Jenkins and Mr Domski said they had received training to identify physical characteristics of drug influence including slurred speech and stumbling, but both said they didn’t look closely at inmates to see if they had glazed or “pinned eyes”. 

“There are 140 inmates to check; we’re busy looking for markings of bashings and checking they are back in their cells,” Mr Jenkins told the inquest. 

The Coroner also questioned how the heroin used by Mr Van Rysewyk got into the prison. 

Two visitors to the jail, a man and a woman, were yesterday questioned over allegations of bringing a stash of illegal drugs into the prison the day before Mr Van Rysewyk’s death. 

The pair had driven from Sydney to Junee to visit a friend in minimum security, staying just two hours before returning home. 

In the lead-up to the visit the court heard the inmate made contact with the woman some three weeks before the visit despite having no contact with her for a number of years. 

Monitored telephone calls revealed the inmate called the woman numerous times a day, up to 12 times in one day, in the lead-up to the visit and he claimed he was unable to recall why he did so. 

During her visit to the jail it was alleged the woman removed an item from her crotch – allegedly heroin – and passed it on to an inmate. 

All denied the allegations.

The inquest continues today. 

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