Prison guards on strike after officer’s manslaughter charge upgraded to murder

More than 6000 prison guards across NSW are on strike today after prosecutors upgraded a charge against their colleague to murder.

Wiradjuri man Dwayne Johnstone was killed in 2019 while running from prison guards after a stay at Lismore Base Hospital.

Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little said members would strike from 6am on Friday. This means “very, very limited movements of inmates”.

Court cases delayed: no prisoner transports, no visits

Damages awarded to woman strip-searched by Correctives officerThe strike will affect all areas of the correctional system, and will involve more than 5000 workers.

Commissioned officers, who are more senior, will deploy on site to cover basic needs.

Prisoner transports will not take place. Court cases could experience delays due to a limited capacity for audio-visual links from prisons.

People wanting to visit an inmate will also have to wait until after the strike.

A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said all prisons will continue to operate securely.

“During this period all essential services will be maintained,” the spokeswoman said.

Corrective Services Officer charge upgraded to murder

prison guards killed Dwyane JohnstoneDwayne Johnstone was in handcuffs and shackles, and running away when an officer shot him in the back outside Lismore Base Hospital in 2019.

In 2020, the NSW Coroner asked the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the death.

The examination ended in a 57-year-old NSW Corrective Services officer receiving a court attendance notice for the offence of manslaughter.

“All the available evidence in this matter, including newly subpoenaed material, has been reviewed in preparation for the upcoming trial,” a spokesperson for the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said.

“The Director has determined that the appropriate charge is one of murder.”

Inmate with shackles on legs and hands escaped from prison guards

On this day, Johnstone, who suffered from epilepsy, had a seizure in the cells at Lismore Local Court. Two officers accompanied him from the cells to the hospital in an ambulance at around 3:30 pm.

The hospital released him around 7:30 pm and the officers accompanied him to a prison van nearby.

Johnstone then elbowed the officer and ran across the road. The junior officer ran after Johnstone, however, the other officer yelled at him to get out of the way.

He then shot Johnstone in the back.

A Wiradjuri life ends prematurely by prison guards

Mr. Johnstone was currently involved in a civil suit against a boys’ home for the childhood sexual abuse he received while in their care.

Counsel assisting the Coroner stated, “There is little doubt that those traumas impacted deeply upon Dwayne in his adult life.”

Johnstone had a history of drug addiction and minor offences such as property theft, minor assaults and possession or trafficking of drugs. Johnstone had twice escaped custody and was therefore in handcuffs and ankle cuffs at all times.

Counsel assisting the coroner described him as a “much-loved partner, son and stepson,” who had a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Dwayne Johnstone’s partner Kirsty Pepper released a statement. In it, she noted that he “will be remembered by those closest to him as being an incredibly loving and fun partner, as well as caring friend and family member.”

“Nothing can ever bring back Dwayne, but there must be justice and accountability for his death. We hope that the coronial process will provide us with some answers and bring some closure to our family,” she said.

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