A prisoner who violently assaulted two corrections officers with a metal broom handle was just 'helping his friend'. GRAPHIC IMAGES
A prisoner who violently assaulted two corrections officers with a metal broom handle was just 'helping his friend'. GRAPHIC IMAGES

Guard left with 13 staples in his head after prisoner attack

A PRISONER who violently assaulted two corrections officers with a metal broom handle was just "helping his friend".

The brutal attack left one officer with a large laceration to his head that needed 13 staples.

Townsville Magistrates Court heard Kenneth Leigh James attacked the officers, who were attempting to deal with his friend in the exercise yard at the correctional centre.

James found a metal broom handle and hit both officers multiple times.

When the officers attempted to move inside the prison, James followed and continued to beat them with the broom.

Prosecutor Jessica Mills said it was a "cowardly, vicious attack" in October 2019, which required a serious penalty of three years, the maximum available in a magistrate's court.

A prison officer’s injury from the October 2019 assault.
A prison officer’s injury from the October 2019 assault.

James' lawyer Kevin Amantea said his client was trying to help his friend and did eventually comply with guard instructions.

The assault led to James spending 50 days in detention before being moved to another correctional centre.

James had been in custody since July 20, 2019, when he crashed a vehicle he was unlawfully driving at speed near the corner of Hugh St and Fulham Rd. He was on parole for a previous unlawful use of a motor vehicle conviction at the time.

Ms Mills said the police dog squad tracked him down after he fled the scene.

After the father of four was taken to hospital to treat his injuries, James tried to escape custody, making it 500m and almost over a fence before officers caught up with him.

"He had nine previous convictions of unlawful use of a motor vehicle," Ms Mills said. "It's clear he is a recidivist offender … with little regard for community safety."

James pleaded guilty to seven offences on Tuesday (Mar 3), including assault, escaping custody and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

The staples on the prison officer head after he was seriously injured at Townsville jail.
The staples on the prison officer head after he was seriously injured at Townsville jail.

Magistrate Cathy Wadley said there was no excuse for James's behaviour.

"You've been sentenced to imprisonment and detention orders since 2014 for this type of offending and nothing has deterred you from reoffending in this way," she said.

Ms Wadley said the victim impact statements, provided by the corrective services officers, made it clear there were ongoing issues for the guards since the assault last year.

She said it took one of the officers a few months to settle back into work after he was cleared for duty.

The other had become short tempered and less communicative, which was "not normal" for him, Ms Wadley said.

James committed the assault while in prison waiting to be sentenced on the unlawful use of a motor vehicle charge.

He was sentenced to a total of two and a half years in prison, with a parole eligibility date of February 2, 2021.

Together Union director industrial services Michael Thomas said he believed the sentenced of incarceration was "reasonably significant".

"Prison officers do a dangerous job and like any other member of the community don't deserve to go to work to get assaulted," he said.

"Officers should be able to go to work and know they're going to be able to come home to their families."

Mr Thomas said Ms Mills seeking the maximum penalty sent a message and the union would continue to stand up for correctional officers having a safe workplace.


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