The general manager of Darwin Correctional Centre, Jon Francis-Jones, has been cross-examined in court about the conditions prisoners are living in amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Francis-Jones is pictured at Townsville Correctional Centre. Picture: Evan Morgan
The general manager of Darwin Correctional Centre, Jon Francis-Jones, has been cross-examined in court about the conditions prisoners are living in amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Francis-Jones is pictured at Townsville Correctional Centre. Picture: Evan Morgan

NT prison boss grilled over COVID-19 plan

THE general manager of the Darwin Correctional Centre has been cross-examined in court about the conditions prisoners are living in amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a part of a bail application for alleged meth dealer Travis Smoothy on the basis that it is unsafe for him to be in jail if there were to be a virus outbreak, Holtze prison boss Jon Francis-Jones was called to give evidence about what protocols were in place on Friday.

Smoothy, who stands charged with a raft of offences including supplying a commercial quantity of a schedule one drug, gave evidence on Thursday and claimed that the prison was in breach of social distancing and hygiene measures.

"I've been locked in this holding cell here … we were mustered into this room from 9am this morning," Smoothy told the court.

"Yesterday there was 14 of us, today there was nine of us.

"I was talking to one fella, he only came off the street yesterday."

He also said that parts of his block in Holtze had gone four days without being cleaned.

Mr Francis-Jones disputed this claim in evidence, saying he attended the prison on Wednesday and it was clean and that there was a contingency plan in place.

"We remain within a four-stage plan," he said.

"We remain in the preparatory stage …(as) we don't have any persons showing symptoms or any confirmed cases."

When cross-examined by Smoothy's lawyer John Lawrence SC, Mr Francis-Jones said the prisons were currently overcapacity.

"It's over the build capacity, however additional beds have been added to accommodate the additional prisoners," Mr Francis-Jones said.

"It's crowded."

Mr Francis-Jones also said that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any prisons in Australia, but Mr Lawrence disputed this during his cross-examination, referring to news reports of positive cases among prison staff across Australia.

"Would you agree that they reveal there's been outbreaks at a couple of correctional facilities - one in New South Wales and one in Brisbane?" Mr Lawrence asked.

"I would agree that it's been reported as such, it doesn't necessarily mean it's factual," Mr Francis-Jones replied.

"What I gave evidence was that there were no prisoners who tested positive."

Mr Lawrence called for a copy of the prison's contingency plan to be tendered into evidence

The matter returns to court next month.


OPINION: Court ordered fines are not deterring offenders

Premium Content OPINION: Court ordered fines are not deterring offenders

As SPER debt continues to soar across the South Burnett, court ordered fines...

JT VISIT: South Burnett footy fans welcome league legend

Premium Content JT VISIT: South Burnett footy fans welcome league legend

SOUTH Burnett footy fans couldn’t hide their excitement when retired league legend...

Gordonbrook Dam approaching 50%, causing concern for Council

Premium Content Gordonbrook Dam approaching 50%, causing concern for Council

The current level of Gordonbrook Dam poses a possible public health concern with...