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Ex-NSW prison boss fronts corruption probe

Lithgow Correctional Centre. Photo ABC

The man who governed the NSW prison where officers allegedly bashed an inmate, colluded to cover up their use of force and planted drugs will face a corruption inquiry into the incident.

John O’Shea, the most senior prison officer at Lithgow Correctional Centre in February 2014, is the last witness listed to give evidence before a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption public hearing in Sydney.

The two-week probe returns on Monday with evidence from fellow witnesses Brad Peebles, the former manager of security who has admitted reports filed were inconsistent with what he saw, and senior correctional officer Jane Lohse.

The trio are the last to front the inquiry under Commissioner Stephen Rushton SC since it began on May 21.

The prisoner, a bikie associate who can’t be named for legal reasons, says he was attacked by a group of officers and blacked out after they mistook him for his cellmate who had been “a bit rude” over the intercom.

Mr Peebles last week told the inquiry Mr O’Shea had been on the other end of the call and walked up to the cell door to give the man a dressing down before a specially-trained unit, including a dog squad officer, arrived.

Reports within the incident’s “use of force package” state the inmate suffered a black eye, mouth bruising and injured ribs when he ran to flush contraband and “fell heavily” onto the toilet after a search team entered the cell.

Two officers have since admitted the files were fabricated.

Video of the area outside the cell was also not included in the package, which was signed off on by Mr O’Shea.

“In this case, the CCTV footage should have been there. Even if it shows nothing,” Mr Peebles said.

He also assured the commissioner he was not involved in any cover-up.

The inquiry has heard from a number of guards present, including evidence some prison officers were “heavy-handed” in their approach and those suspected of reporting inappropriate conduct were labelled as “dogs”.


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