The jail sentence given to a NSW prison guard who bashed an inmate has been overturned in the NSW District Court, with a judge finding the guard was “provoked” and “clouded” by a mental disorder.
Terry Dolling, 43, was caught on CCTV repeatedly striking a prisoner in the holding cells at the Newcastle court house in October last year.
After pleading guilty he was sentenced to seven months’ jail by a magistrate in May.
In the Downing Centre District Court this afternoon, Judge Paul Lakatos upheld Dolling’s appeal against the severity of the sentence, replacing the jail term with a nine-month good behaviour bond.
Judge Lakatos said he did not think it was necessary or appropriate that there be a full-time custodial sentence.
The 44-year-old senior corrective services officer pleaded guilty to common assault in Toronto Local Court, but alleged that the prisoner, who was known to be infected with hepatitis C, had spat in his eyes.
The sentence produced a furious reaction among prison guards, sparking state-wide industrial action.
Judge Lakatos said that he accepted the evidence of Dolling’s psychiatrist, Dr Lucas Murphy, that the guard had been affected by a “depersonalisation disorder” at the time of the offence, which meant he was only partly aware of what he was doing.
He also said that the 43-year-old had been “highly provoked” by being spat in the face, which had caused him “serious concern that he might contract an infectious disease”.
“On a human level, I fully understand that a person would react very significantly against what had occurred, particularly when they may have been affected by a disorder,” Judge Lakatos said.
But the judge did not accept the argument made by Dolling’s lawyers that he should have no conviction recorded, finding that this was not appropriate because the attack fell into the highest category for the charge of common assault.
“This was a sustained and brutal attack,” he said. “The description of this act as ‘getting into a fight’ is wholly inapt and incorrectly employed in these circumstances.
“It is a fact that through one moment of loss of self control you find yourself in this position. That is a regretful situation, but the law requires that you pay a legal price.”
Dolling sat expressionless as the appeal decision was read, but afterwards was embraced by the large group of friends and colleagues who had come to support him in court.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.