A former prison guard says her life will never be the same after she was violently assaulted by an inmate.
At just 24 years old, Melbourne woman Adelle Mahoney told news.com.au that she feels like a “shell” of the person she used to be, as she grapples with the debilitating reality of severe PTSD and anxiety,
Back in June 2021, she volunteered to cover a night shift at Port Phillip Prison, a maximum security jail located approximately 23km from Melbourne’s CBD.
Adelle had never worked at this particular section of the jail before, which held the prison’s most dangerous and “troublesome” inmates – including those that had assaulted staff – in singular cells.
The following morning, she claims she was asked to deliver the prisoner’s breakfast by herself before the bosses came in – something she now says could have been a fatal mistake.
“I worked in security before this, and I thought a career in the correctional system would be a great change and step up in my career,” Adelle told news.com.au.
“It is certainly not easy. I think especially being a woman, it is a different experience and you can become a target because of your gender.
“But on the other hand, I find lots of prisoners actually react better to a female guard. So it really depends on the inmate.
“On the whole I enjoyed it. It was challenging, and I felt there was a great potential to progress in this line of work.
“That morning, I was assigned the task of delivering the toast and hot water to make tea and coffee to the prisoners.
“I was told to do this by myself, before the ‘general duties’ manager arrived at 6am.
“I was under strict instruction to pre-butter one of the inmate’s pieces of toast, because he was not allowed to have the sachet that the butter came in.
“But he was angry about this, and told me he wanted a new piece of toast without butter. So I went to get another slice.”
As she was re-delivering the meal to the inmate through the door trap, he suddenly grabbed her arm violently and began yelling about the toast he was served.
Adelle luckily managed to drop down to the ground, forcing him to let her go, but as she ran away he threw a milk carton full of his own faeces at her.
Covered in the inmate’s waste, she said she “went numb” and could not believe what had just transpired.
“He still wasn’t happy, and he was becoming increasingly aggressive with me,” she explained.
“I went to close the trap, and was standing to the side as we’re taught to do. But as I did this, he grabbed my arm and pulled me in front of him.
“I dropped to my knees and leant backwards, so he was forced to let go. I saw his arm come out with a carton of milk.
“I turned to run, and he threw it at me. I realised it was full of his poo.
“My entire back, clothes and hair were soaked with his faeces. It was absolutely horrible, I can’t even describe the feeling.
“I had to go get tested for diseases but luckily I was cleared.”
This disgusting act is known as “s**t-bombing”, a type of assault that involves a person putting their bodily fluids or bodily waste into a container and throwing it on another person.
Adelle said this is a common occurrence in prison and believes the prisoner had likely been collecting and storing his waste for some time.
She claims that she also later discovered that this particular inmate had committed crimes against women in the past, which likely made her an appealing target.
According to Adelle, the instructions she was given that morning to serve the inmates breakfast by herself was not regular protocol.
However, as she was just filling in and not familiar with that part of the prison, she just followed directions.
Brave Adelle tried to return to work a couple of months following the assault.
But after another altercation with an irate prisoner, she realised she could “no longer function” in that environment.
“I took some time off, and then went back and tried to get on with it,” she explained.
“I thought I was okay. But then there was an incident where a prisoner was raising his voice and getting aggressive.
“Even though it wasn’t directly aimed at me, I started to panic. I was having flashbacks of the assault.
“It was then I realised how mentally damaged I was.”
Adelle has not returned to work.
For the past 18 months since the assault, she has needed intensive psychological support and has since “become a recluse”, barely leaving the house.
In the times she does need to go out, she has a carer with her at all times.
“It turned my life upside down, I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same,” she said.
“I used to be so independent and outgoing, and I’ve lost that. It has been life changing.
“I had to move back in with my parents. I can’t go anywhere in public alone, and I can’t drive anymore.
“I can’t go to shops or cafes on my own, I need to have a carer with me. If there is ever anyone yelling and shouting in public, I shut down.
“My sleeping is horrible, I have nightmares all the time.”
With Adelle unable to work, she has since hired legal representation and is seeking compensation.
“My client continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares to the extent she has become a recluse and is constantly struggling with anxiety,” Ron Lakshman, Solicitor at Shine Lawyers, told news.com.au in a statement.
“We’re investigating whether my client’s psychological injuries were a result of negligence on the part of her employer by failing to provide a safe workplace.
“If negligence is established, my client will seek compensation for lost income, medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.
“While no amount of money can ever undo the harm caused to my client, financial peace of mind will go some way to righting this wrong.”
News.com.au understands that in Australia, violence towards prison staff can result in harsh penalties.
In addition to possible criminal charges, any prisoner found guilty of assaulting another prisoner or prison staff may also face tough sanctions through the internal disciplinary process.
This may include monetary fines, loss of privileges or transfer to a more secure unit or prison.
A spokesperson for Victoria Correctional Services confirmed that there has been new laws introduced to ensure that prison officers have the same protections as emergency services workers.
“Violence towards staff is treated extremely seriously and we work closely with Victoria Police and WorkSafe Victoria to provide a safe working environment for all staff.,” a spokesperson for G4S, the security company that operates the prison, said in a statement.
“Correctional Officers are supported with training on tactical and de-escalation strategies, specialist units that undertake careful analysis of risks and intelligence, and ongoing assessment and placement of prisoners.”
Story Credit: news.com.au