Attack leaves prisoner with serious injuries
DETECTIVES are investigating what caused a jail yard square-up in which a prisoner suffered savage facial burns on the morning he was supposed to be released from Cessnock prison.
The criminal, 25, woke on Friday knowing he would be free in a few hours after finishing a jail term for what was believed to be dishonesty matters.
But by 6.45am, he was screaming in agony after having piping hot water poured across his face and shoulder in a frightening attack in the yard of a minimum security wing of the prison.
Witnesses have told investigators how it appeared skin was folding off his face before he was treated and flown by Hunter Westpac rescue helicopter to the specialist burns unit at Royal North Shore Hospital.
Initial diagnosis had the man in a life-threatening situation, with claims the burns would cause major disfigurement and prompting medical staff to place him in a drug-induced coma.
But by Friday afternoon, the prisoner awoke from his coma and took advantage of his newfound liberty by checking himself out of hospital.
He had not been spoken to by detectives, who were called to the prison to investigate how and why the man was attacked.
The Newcastle Herald understands a gas-fired urn connected to a wall was in the area where the man was attacked.
The injuries appear to have shown that the boiling hot water was poured across part of his face, down his shoulder and under his armpit.
A Corrective Services spokesman confirmed that ‘‘the prisoner had sustained serious burns to his face and body when another prisoner allegedly threw hot water on him in a minimum security accommodation area about 6.45am’’.
One inmate was placed in segregation and the ‘‘affected accommodation area’’ had been locked down while police investigate.
But the Herald understands the unwritten code of prison inmates, where no one co-operates with authority, has made it difficult to determine the reasons for the attack or who was responsible.
Detectives will investigate whether any unpaid bills from within the prison could have contributed to the attack or whether an inmate with a grudge realised it may be his last opportunity for retribution.