WARNING: This story contains graphic content that may upset some readers
teenager placed in a mechanical restraint was put there at least three
times before the controversial Four Corners footage was shot, a witness
to the abuse says.
The new claim jars with the version of events
from the Northern Territory Government, which insists the restraint was
only used on Dylan Voller once.
Four Corners showed images on
Monday night of Voller hooded and strapped into a mechanical restraint
chair for almost two hours in March 2015, when he was serving a two
years and three months minimum sentence.
Voller, now 19, told his
lawyers he had been put in the chair on several occasions, but the new
information from the guard is the first independent account.
The ABC reported on Wednesday morning one of the guards
involved in the tear-gassing incident at the Don Dale Youth Detention
Centre believed Voller had been in the chair at least three times.
Ben Kelleher, a former youth justice officer, said: “I know of three times he was in the restraint chair.”
Still image of 17-year-old Dylan Voller,
restrained and fitted with a spit hood inside the Youth Detention Centre
in Alice Springs. Photo / ABC/Four Corners
Each time he was locked in the restraints he was “never so still, never so sheepish as he was when he was in that chair”.
“I turned up for one shift and Dylan was in the
chair and the other two times they were on incident reports I read once I
got to work,” he told the ABC.
He worked in youth detention
centres between 2011 and 2014. At first he didn’t think strapping Voller
to the chair was wrong – but now he does.
“I truly believe no
matter how misbehaved a young man or lady is, they shouldn’t have their
right to movement taken away like that.
“It’s very hard for the individual and a worker to draw a line between your safety and the safety of the kids.”
official response from the Northern Territory Corrections Department is
that it was used “only at adult correctional centres”, and youth
detainees had been placed in it just a single time.
Dylan Voller went on an ice-fuelled crime
spree and ended up in the Don Dale Centre where he was shackled and
placed in a hood. Photo / Supplied
Voller’s lawyer Peter O’Brien is calling for his immediate release and said his client was
“scared for his safety”. He has also tweeted about suing the NT Government on behalf of Voller.
“Assault, battery and false imprisonment. It’s a shame we can’t sue for permanent psychological damage,” Mr O’Brien tweeted.
Voller released a letter after the Four Corners episode aired, thanking “the whole Australian community” for its support.
would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to the community
for my wrongs and I can’t wait to get out and make up for them,” he
On Tuesday afternoon, the NT’s Chief Minister Adam Giles
announced he had removed John Elferink as Corrections Minister,
installing himself in the role. The move came after Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull announced a Royal Commission into the treatment of
children in juvenile justice centres in the NT.