Cocaine dealer Richard Buttrose spent much of his jail term as a model prisoner. But the 47-year-old says he was unjustly assaulted, harassed and punished.
Cocaine dealer Richard Buttrose spent much of his jail term as a model prisoner. But the 47-year-old says he was unjustly assaulted, harassed and punished.

Ita Buttrose's nephew makes shocking prison allegations

Richard Buttrose claims he was stripped naked and videoed while being indecently assaulted by prison officers after rejecting a $10,000 "bribe" to lower his security classification while serving jail time for cocaine supply.

In an extraordinary lawsuit filed against NSW Corrective Services, Buttrose claims a supportive phone call from prison to long-time friend Roxy Jacenko sparked the campaign of "humiliation, harassment and inhumane treatment" at the hands of Corrective Services officers.

Richard Buttrose has taken legal action against NSW Corrective Services over his time in jail. Picture: Richard Dobson
Richard Buttrose has taken legal action against NSW Corrective Services over his time in jail. Picture: Richard Dobson

The nephew of media mogul Ita Buttrose has made the allegations of corruption and misconduct that shadowed the final months of his nine-year prison term in a statement of claim filed in the NSW Supreme Court last week.

The Sunday Telegraph understands Corrective Services offered Buttrose $10,000 in 2019 to settle the claim out of court.

The 47-year-old former restaurateur, convicted for supplying cocaine to movers and shakers in the eastern suburbs, had a blemish-free record behind bars and became a model prisoner, completing two university degrees and working in trusted roles before being released in 2017.

Richard Buttrose is media mogul, Ita Buttrose’s nephew. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Richard Buttrose is media mogul, Ita Buttrose’s nephew. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

Despite this, Buttrose claims he was robbed of the opportunity to take part in work release, a program that allows inmates approaching parole the chance to generate an income before their release and ease back into normality. An inmate must have a C3 minimum-security classification to take part.

In his statement of claim Buttrose says that while he was an inmate at Long Bay jail in 2016 he met with Senior Assistant Superintendent Michael Frawley about the progress of his work release plan.

Buttrose claims Mr Frawley said "paying $10,000 will ensure your C3 application won't be delayed any further and you can get the maximum benefit from work release".

According to the claim, Buttrose says he did not pay the $10,000 and claims he was then subjected to a sustained campaign of punishment by other prison officers that left him with psychological damage.

Six days after the meeting, Buttrose alleges, he was arrested by the Immediate Action Team, the prison equivalent of the riot squad that is intended to respond to high-risk situations.

According to the claim, Buttrose was taken to Prison Governor Pat Aboud and Mr Frawley and accused of trying to "manipulate an officer to change the placement of another inmate" during a phone call.

Buttrose claimed Corrective Services alleged he committed a serious breach of security but never charged him.

He claims he was later relocated from Long Bay jail to Junee Correctional Centre following a "supportive call to a friend", according to a prison case note he acquired under freedom of information laws.

The phone call was to PR queen and Vaucluse neighbour Roxy Jacenko after her husband Oliver Curtis was jailed for insider trading in 2016.

Roxy Jacenko and husband Oliver Curtis. Buttrose was in contact while in jail. Picture: Tim Hunter
Roxy Jacenko and husband Oliver Curtis. Buttrose was in contact while in jail. Picture: Tim Hunter

Buttrose claims he reassured Ms Jacenko in the recorded jail call that Mr Curtis would be safe and that he could apply to move to Long Bay jail at any time.

After the alleged bribe proposition, Buttrose claimed the IAT took him to a segregated cell, stripped him, physically and indecently assaulted him and officers "videoed the humiliating and traumatic event" while laughing.

Buttrose claims there was no reason to search him as he had not been charged, suspected of handling contraband or leaving the prison grounds.

Buttrose claimed he tried to access the video record of his arrest and his discussion with Governor Aboud through a FOI request but was told there was no record of his arrest or videos.

He claims the targeted harassment also involved "cell ramping", in which prison officers instil fear by ransacking cells without notice.

According to the statement of claim, two corrective services investigators visited Buttrose unexpectedly at Berrima prison in 2016 to inquire about the demand of bribes from inmates in return for security classification changes.

The father-of-two refused to comment when contacted on Saturday.

He is seeking damages for the psychological trauma and harm suffered during and after the arrest and the loss of income as a result of his inability to take part in work release.

Originally published as Richard Buttrose: 'I was stripped naked, bashed and videoed'


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