An inmate originally sentenced for importation of cocaine pleaded guilty last week to unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on a prison officer by biting off a piece of the guard’s ear.
Dean Ron Bayley was to have gone on trial for wounding with intent, but the Crown accepted a plea to the lesser charge after defence attorney John Furniss said the act was not premeditated.
After hearing the background to the incident and Bayley’s previous record, Justice Alexander Henderson said the appropriate sentence was four years, but he discounted this by one-third because of the guilty plea. The result was 32 months consecutive to Bayley’s current sentence.
The most aggravating factor, the judge said, was that this was Bayley’s second offence against a prison officer. He previously received nine months consecutive in Summary Court for punching a guard in the face.
The latest offence occurred in March this year in the prison’s basic unit around 6.50am when the officer on duty was getting ready to collect breakfast. Crown Counsel Marilyn Brandt said the officer heard a banging on one of the cell doors and went to check. Because the viewing panel in the cell door was obscured, the officer opened the door to inquire what Bayley needed. Bayley asked the time and the guard told him it was minutes to seven.
Bayley seemed fine and the guard continued toward the exit of the unit. On hearing the banging noise again, the guard re-entered the area because, as Ms Brandt explained, “there are times things can escalate if not addressed quickly”.
The guard again opened the cell door and Bayley held on to it in an attempt to open it further. The officer placed his arm across Bayley’s chest and asked him what the problem was now. Bayley continued to press against the officer, who then held him in a bear hug and told him to calm down. Bayley tried to get out of the cell and in the tussle the officer felt the bite.
He used his body to press Bayley against the wall of the cell and at that point another guard entered and helped him put handcuffs on the prisoner. The shift commander later asked Bayley why he bit the officer and he replied, “I just wanted to look out into the corridor.”
The commander said Bayley would have known that inmates would be allowed out of their cells after breakfast, since he had been in that unit before.
Ms Brandt submitted a statement from the doctor who treated the injured guard. He said the patient was bleeding from a laceration .8 by .3 centimetres at the top of the ear. He had brought with him the piece that had been bitten off, but the recommendation was that it not be reattached because it had been in the defendant’s mouth and there was danger of infection.
Ms Brandt also submitted photos.
Mr. Furniss said the officer’s ear had since healed: “You would not know it was involved in an incident like this.” He told the court that Bayley has since apologised to the officer and had also sent a written apology.
When the judge asked what Bayley had hoped to see looking into the corridor, Mr. Furniss replied, “It was a spur of the moment thing.” He referred to other photos that showed the size of the cell in the basic unit. “It’s not very big,” he noted.