Boy, 17, strapped to mechanical chair as footage reveals abuse at youth detention centre
WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES AND CONTENT THAT MAY DISTURB SOME READERS.
Disturbing footage has emerged of a 17-year-old boy, who was one of six boys tear gassed at a juvenile detention centre near Darwin, Australia, being strapped to a mechanical restraint chair.
The footage is part of a catalogue of evidence obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)'s Four Corners programme of the repeated assault and mistreatment of boys at youth detention centres the Northern Territory.
The vision shows prison officers strapping a 17-year-old boy, identified as Dylan Voller, being handcuffed, hooded and strapped to a mechanical restraint chair for almost two hours.
On the day of the incident in March 2015, the teenager had been transferred to the adult prison in Alice Springs and strapped to the chair after threatening to hurt himself so he would be taken hospital, according to Four Corners.
In the vision, the teenager is ordered by guards to walk backwards, hunched over, into an isolation cell before asking the guards why his mattress was taken away, telling them he has been treated like a dog.
The shocking footage also shows the teenager being thrown across his cell, kneed and knocked to the ground, repeatedly stripped naked and also kept in solitary confinement.
The teenager was among six boys tear gassed at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Berrimah, near Darwin, in August 2014.
At the time it was reported the boys, aged between 14 and 17, were rioting in an attempt to escape their cells in the prison's behavioural management unit.
But CCTV vision and handy-cam recordings made by corrections staff and obtained by the ABC show only one boy had escaped his cell and was using a light fitting to repeatedly smash prison walls and reinforced windows.
The others were locked in their cells in the isolation wing. The boys had been placed in solitary confinement for between six and 17 days, for between 22 and 24 hours a day.
Vision from the incident shows 10 bursts of tear gas being sprayed into the unit over one-and-a-half minutes as prison staff laugh and call the 14-year-old boy who had escaped his cell a "f---ing idiot".
The same guard can be heard saying: "I'll pulverise the little f---er, go grab the f---ing gas and f---ing gas them through, f---cking get [name omitted] to gas them through here."
Sounds of crying, vomiting and screaming follow, including cries from one of the boys that he was unable to breathe.
The vision also shows the children running back to their cells, hiding behind sheets and bending over toilets when the gas reaches their cells.
The incident sparked a damning report by the Northern Territory's then Children's Commissioner Howard Bath that called for an overhaul of staff training and recruitment in youth detention.
As reported by the ABC, the use of tear gas at the juvenile detention centre in 2014 came after repeated escapes, unrest and months of tension. Three weeks before the incident, five boys had escaped the facility.
When they were recaptured they were placed in the isolation wing without running water or light. Amnesty International later described the conditions the children were forced to endure as "disturbing".
The union representing the centre's workers told the ABC that blame should not be attributed to its members, who had received inadequate training.
In response to the report, which was completed by Bath's successor as NT Children's Commissioner, Colleen Gwynne, the former commissioner for corrections, Ken Middlebook, defended the officers' actions, saying the report was inaccurate, "shallow" and "one-sided".
- Sydney Morning Herald