There's no excuse for abuse
"Sausagate" A story of sexual abuse and no accountability
A remand prisoner was forced to insert a meat sausage into his anus and then strip searched by guards "for some fun".
No one was ever charged for the sexual abuse of this unconvicted person with mental health issues.
State abuse

The guards involved were suspended on full pay (paid holiday) for 6 and 9 months. No charges were ever laid. The Age Newspaper carried a report about a prison "prank". The Age reported a prisoner who was allegedly hurt and humiliated by an obscene practical joke, known in prison circles as "Sausagegate", is suing the private operator of Port Phillip Prison at Laverton. Kirk Steven Ardern, 27, has lodged a writ in the County Court seeking damages for physical and psychological injuries suffered during the incident on May 22, 2005. The Sunday Age reported exclusively in March last year that private operator GSL Australia had been fined almost $200,000 by Corrections Victoria over the matter and other breaches.

Following the Sunday Age report, based on a leaked copy of an internal investigation, four prison officers who were suspended on full pay for six to nine months over the incident were sacked, and two others were counselled. The investigator's report said Ardern was made to believe he was going out of the prison to buy doughnuts, then coerced into secreting what he was told was a package of contraband drugs and cash wrapped in cling-wrap inside his rectum.

But he had been tricked, and was angered and humiliated after the package, a meat sausage, was revealed during a strip-search and a subsequent mock interrogation. In the writ, filed by solicitors Arnold Thomas and Becker, the statement of claim says a plan was hatched and carried out against Ardern by several prison officers, along with several prisoners and a catering employee. It names the prison officers as Stephen Harmat, Russell Davies and Appurdural Natkunarajah. A fourth officer was unnamed. The catering employee is cited as someone named Scott, and the prisoners as Dave Eddington, "Chris" and "Curly".

The writ says the plan involved persuading Ardern he would be allowed out of the prison if he hid a package in his rectum and went to Werribee Plaza to give the package to an unidentified person, then returned to the prison. The plan then involved strip-searching Ardern before he left prison, "discovering" the package and treating him as though he had been caught committing a serious offence. The writ describes the package as being "15 to 20 centimetres long and tubular in shape and compact and solid".

It says Ardern inserted the package "not of his own free will but acting under intimidation from Chris, who in the presence of Eddington and Curly" had told Ardern not to anger the warders and the caterer. "This occurred after Eddington had told the plaintiff to 'bank' the package which had been left for him in the prison toilets. In prison parlance, 'bank' meant to insert the package up his rectum.

The usual story of no accountability

"The strip-search was carried out by Davies and the unnamed prison officer. During the strip search the package was discovered and removed. "Natkunarajah then proceeded to interrogate the plaintiff and treat him as though he had committed a serious offence."The writ argues that Ardern was a victim of what amounted to assault and battery, and suffered damage to the anus and rectum, with bleeding and pain. His psychological injuries, it said, involved post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

The writ said Ardern was especially vulnerable as a prisoner and, because of his psychological state, personality and circumstances, had been humiliated and embarrassed through a severe abuse of powers. Ardern has spent most of the time since the incident in Fulham prison, near Sale, where he is serving a sentence for assault.

GSL was warned at the time that the case could affect the renewal of its contract with Australian Correctional Facility Pty Ltd, which sub-contracts to GSL. The contract for Port Phillip Prison is a 20-year agreement with reviews every three to five years. In the most recent review, completed in June, the Government required GSL to improve its performance and standards.

The result has been a clean-out at the top of GSL, which now has a new director, new management team and a new compliance regime that includes daily checks and regular auditing. A Corrections Victoria spokeswoman said the company's performance had improved.

"The strip-search was carried out by Davies and the unnamed prison officer. During the strip search the package was discovered and removed. "Natkunarajah then proceeded to interrogate the plaintiff and treat him as though he had committed a serious offence." The writ argues that Ardern was a victim of what amounted to assault and battery, and suffered damage to the anus and rectum, with bleeding and pain. His psychological injuries, it said, involved post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

The writ said Ardern was especially vulnerable as a prisoner and, because of his psychological state, personality and circumstances, had been humiliated and embarrassed through a severe abuse of powers. Ardern has spent most of the time since the incident in Fulham prison, near Sale, where he is serving a sentence for assault. GSL was warned at the time that the case could affect the renewal of its contract with Australian Correctional Facility Pty Ltd, which sub-contracts to GSL.

The contract for Port Phillip Prison is a 20-year agreement with reviews every three to five years. In the most recent review, completed in June, the Government required GSL to improve its performance and standards. The result has been a clean-out at the top of GSL, which now has a new director, new management team and a new compliance regime that includes daily checks and regular auditing.

A Corrections Victoria spokeswoman said the company's performance had improved.


01

The Age newspaper called it a "prank".
Lawyers call it a conspiracy and rape.