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Prisoner gets extra time over role in riot

A prisoner who played a key role in a destructive riot at Capricornia Correctional Centre two years ago has been handed an extra 18 months in jail.

John Frederick Murray was one of more than 60 male prisoners charged over the chaos that erupted in October 2021 which caused about $1.2 million damage to the Rockhampton facility.

Murray, 27, appeared in the District Court in Rockhampton earlier this month having pleaded guilty to one count of riot with circumstances of aggravation.

Judge Clarke said Murray, who was serving a 15-month prison term at the time, “took quite an active participation” in the offending.

“Initially, you used your body weight to stop prison officers from being able to come into the cell unit that you were in, in addition to refusing to comply with a request simply to stand down,”  he said.

“The landscaping shed was broken into in the course of the riot and yourself and other prisoners used that to take advantage of having access to volatile substances such as petrol, which you sniffed or drank.

“It also gave you an opportunity to arm yourselves with various objects which could be used as makeshift weapons.”

Judge Clarke said Murray was involved in the “Code Black”  from its start and had encouraged other inmates.

“You were also seen to be getting around armed with a pickaxe on one occasion, and also a mallet. You used the pickaxe to damage a vending machine. You also used it to smash windows. You also used the mallet to throw it at prison officers,” he said.

“On one occasion you were pictured via a handheld device within the jail, sitting on a ride-on mower with another prisoner. You were wearing a prison officer’s cap. You were holding some petrol and extending your middle finger to the person taking the photograph.”

Judge Clarke said Murray’s behaviour also included lighting a fire, as well as “throwing items off the roof at prison officers, speaking into a stolen megaphone, repeatedly inhaling petrol from a bottle, drinking stolen soft drink cans, pouring the contents of soft drink cans about and, on one occasion, pulling down your pants and exposing your buttocks to the prison officers and raising your middle finger while they were recording you”.

Murray was charged after the joint police investigation into the riot, Operation Tango Roadtrain, which included interviewing more than 200 prisoners; obtaining statements from more than 100 prison officers and witnesses; and reviewing photos and CCTV vision.

He will be eligible for parole in March next year.

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