Court hears of prisons brimming with illicit drugs
A COURT has heard of a defendant facing robbery charges claiming the many prisons he'd been moved between were riddled with drugs.
When solicitor Eddie Lloyd applied for bail on behalf of her client, Ezra Azariah Williams, on Wednesday, Lismore Local Court heard the 24-year-old had been moved to different correctional facilities 13 times in the 11 months he'd spent in custody.
Ms Lloyd said her client had described the drugs ice, buprenorphine, heroin and cannabis being readily available in custody.
The court heard Mr Williams was expected to face a trial - likely not until next year - for the allegations he was armed with intent and committed a robbery upon Paul Pearson at Woodenbong in June last year, being armed with a chisel and stealing a range of items including a jigsaw, rum, stereo system, and a meat cleaver.
He's entered no formal plea to these charges.
He was meanwhile sentenced this week over a break-in where he stole a large amount of alcohol, electronic equipment and a donations tin from the Crown Hotel in Urbenville in August, 2018 and another incident where he stole a pair of expensive scissors and a cash register key from a Woodenbong hair dressing salon.
"He's told me everyone in his pod is using substances in custody,” Ms Lloyd said.
"His substance use disorder has deteriorated since he's been in custody.”
The court heard Mr Williams, from near Woodenbong, had secured a bed in rehab.
But he needed to be released from custody in order to check in.
"He cannot access any rehabilitation services in custody,” Ms Lloyd said.
"He has asked to see a councillor but that has not come to fruition.
"If Mr Williams had been diagnosed with schizophrenia he would not be denied treatment.
"Substance use disorder is in the (medical diagnostic manual) DSM5. He has told me he's been denied treatment for that.”
The prosecutor said the court couldn't "look at this matter of rehabilitation in a vacuum” and stressed Mr Williams was on bail for the break-ins at the time of his more serious alleged offence.
Magistrate David Heilpern said Mr Williams should have been able to access rehab when he'd previously been at liberty, although Ms Lloyd argued there were complexities, including rehabilitation resourcing issues.
"I accept that drugs are freely available to the defendant in prison,” Mr Heilpern said.
"I accept that he's been moved 13 times in the last 11 months.
"I'm also aware there's a difference between how remand prisoners and those who've been sentenced (are treated) in prison.
"Obviously prisons should be ... an illicit-drug-free environment.
"Where it's not, it's not providing a safe environment for people to be helped.”
But he said "a significant proportion” of people who'd faced court before him had drug problems and this wasn't enough to "tip the balance” for Mr Williams and there was too high a risk to the community if he was released.
Mr Williams was refused bail and his case adjourned to August 14.
For the break-ins, to which Mr Williams had pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to a total of two years' prison, with a non-parole period ending on December 9 this year.