City ‘a fun place’ for inmate

Mount Gambier Prison 2 (2)  TBW Newsgroup

AN INMATE who was released from the Mount Gambier Prison on Monday has declared the Blue Lake City “a fun place to be” after failing to return to accommodation in Adelaide.

Adelaide man Matthew Bruce Barrett, 34, made these comments in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court yesterday after he was arrested in the city for the second time this week.

“I always have fun in this town… I am now in a rush to get out of here,” Barrett told the court.

“The police are on my back, they are admired by me.”

Barrett was initially released from the Mount Gambier Prison on Monday with bail conditions to return to accommodation in Port Adelaide.

Instead, Barrett stayed in Mount Gambier and was arrested late on Tuesday, before appearing in court again on Wednesday.

The defendant was given a final chance by Magistrate Yoong Fee Chin who granted him bail again, which required him to catch a bus back to Adelaide first thing yesterday morning.

However, when Barrett attended a service station on Penola Road twice yesterday morning, it was clear his stay in Mount Gambier had not finished.

The prosecution said at around 8.30am a staff member at the service station observed Barrett place a pair of sunglasses in his bag before taking another pair and trying them on.

Barrett was heard making strange comments, before he tried to pay for the second pair of sunglasses.

The staff member refused the purchase.

Around three hours later Barrett returned to the service station and took a rock “the size of a fist” out of his bag.

A witness said they heard the defendant making comments such as “I could smash them with this”.

Barrett denied having the rock for a threatening purpose.

“I treasure rocks, I have always treasured rocks and this is the place of rocks,” he said.

“It was a very good looking rock.”

The prosecution also told the court, a witness had heard Barrett make a derogatory comment about Magistrate Chin.

Police were called to the service station not long after the second incident and located Barrett nearby.

The prosecution said he was not interviewed due to his aggressive nature.

In court Barrett could be heard rambling as he pleaded with Magistrate Chin for another chance to return to Adelaide.

Magistrate Chin outlined the reason the police were keeping an eye on him.

“You can be annoying and you cause trouble,” he said.

“You were meant to catch a bus back to Adelaide first thing in the morning.”

During a bail application, the defendant’s lawyer raised concerns about Barrett’s mental state – who rambled throughout court proceedings and constantly requested a drink of water.

Magistrate Chin refused to grant Barrett bail on another occasion.

“There is a reason I do not look happy, it’s because I placed my trust in you,” Magistrate Chin said.

“The time has come, I have a duty not to give you any more opportunities.”

Barrett was remanded in custody with his matters transferred to the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on September 12.

The incident follows revelations late last month that inmates released from Mount Gambier Prison are not forced to return to their place of residence.

This week, Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said he held talks with Corrections Minister Corey Wingard in a bid to push for a in-depth study into prisoners movements.

The department has now conceded it has no statistics on prisoner movements and how many former inmates – who lived in other areas in the state – have made the Blue Lake city home.

It is believed this upward trend is placing pressure on police resources and community transitional services.