Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Hannah Neale

'Extreme pain, distress': Inmate awarded $160k for 'harrowing' ordeal

Corrections officers forcibly extracting Paul Palmer from his cell. Picture supplied

An inmate who was violently removed from his cell, causing "extreme pain and distress", has been awarded almost $160,000 for the "harrowing" ordeal.

In a judgment handed down in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum ordered inmate Paul Palmer receive $159,654 in damages.

Mr Palmer had taken the ACT government to court claiming that as a result of being forcefully removed from his cell, he suffered extreme pain, a significant injury to his right shoulder and ongoing mental harm.

He sought damages for assault and battery from the Australian Capital Territory, which operates the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

The inmate did not seek any adverse findings for any of the prison guards, except for officer Todd Ward.

Mr Palmer was serving a lengthy jail sentence, when on September 8, 2017, he smashed a window in the front door of his cell.

As a result, he was removed from his cell by four corrections officers in a "hard extraction".

The inmate had been kept in an overflow area of the prison for several days with no exercise area or shower facilities.

In her written judgment, Chief Justice McCallum said Mr Palmer did not resist.

"The process of extracting him from the cell nonetheless involved the deliberate use of force, weapons, restraints and a physical hold intended to compel compliance by the infliction of pain," she stated.

The guards entered the cell with a riot shield and officer Ward pulled Mr Palmer away from the wall, spun him around and threw him to the floor.

The other officers then handcuffed the prisoner, before pulling him to his feet with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Mr Palmer was escorted along a corridor and down two flights of stairs using a hold which created a "lever to use pain as a compliance technique".

When they arrived in a holding area, Mr Palmer was forced to kneel before officer Ward jerked the prisoner's right arm up sharply behind his back.

While officers are legally able to use force in certain circumstances, what occurred was "significant and degrading and that it caused him extreme pain and distress," Chief Justice McCallum said.

"This dangerous, intractable tension between the rights of prisoners and the safety of corrections officers will continue so long as full-time imprisonment remains the primary form of punishment for serious offences and prisons continue to be overcrowded, under-resourced and unable to offer prisoners any real opportunities for education and reform."

She stated that video footage of the extraction was "harrowing to watch" and revealed "a significant degree of violence" which caused pain to Mr Palmer.

Mr Palmer's claim originally included an allegation that ACT government had breached its duties under the Human Rights Act, but this was later abandoned.

On Monday, Chief Justice McCallum made judgment for the sum to include general damages, future economic loss, future out of pocket expenses, future domestic assistance, and interest.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.