Tributes flow for prisoner who died in jail buggy crash

A MONKEY and croc thief who stopped a plot to blow up a servo has been labelled as "brave" by family after he died in prison buggy crash.

Benjamin Glen Watts, 32, could not be revived by paramedics after the incident at 1.45pm on Friday.

Prison sources said he had been driving the buggy along a track towards the horticultural section of the prison, alongside another prisoner who was driving a separate buggy, when he decided to go off the track.

Ben Watts pictured with his sister Rebecca. Date unknown.
Ben Watts pictured with his sister Rebecca. Date unknown.

 

"He went off the track of his own accord and up a mound," the source said. "That was when he flipped and, well, you know what happened next."

Family and friends have paid tribute to Watts, with cousin Jami Watts describing him as her "big brave cousin" and "my hero".

His sister Bec, posting a photo of them in their youth, said: "I carry you in my heart."

Watts had a chequered criminal history that included breaking into Crocodylus Park with a mate when he was 19 years old to steal two baby crocodiles and a rare marmoset monkey worth $2000.

 

Benjamin Watts featured on the front page of the NT News in 2008 for helping to catch a man threatening to blow up a servo
Benjamin Watts featured on the front page of the NT News in 2008 for helping to catch a man threatening to blow up a servo

 

Just eight months later Watts was in the headlines again after he helped to catch a man threatening to blow up a service station, holding the perp down until police arrived.

The source told the Sunday Territorian prison officers had been calling for a stop to prisoners being allowed to drive buggies for years, particularly after an incident in June 2019 when an inmate escaped by driving out of the prison in a buggy.

"They need to stop and I reckon they will now," the source said.

"But it's just a shame it's taken a death to stop it."

The NT Department of the Attorney-General and Justice declined to comment as the matter was being investigated by police.

NT Worksafe was called to the incident but it remains unknown if it will investigate. 

Originally published as Tributes flow for prisoner who died in Darwin jail buggy crash


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