Shocking details in Banksia Hill riot revealed

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre in Canning Vale.
Camera IconBanksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre in Canning Vale. Credit: Lincoln Baker / The West Australian

Staff were forced to lock themselves inside a safe room as detainees used antennas, tools, brick pavers and an angle grinder as weapons, causing havoc and $1.3 million in damage during a riot at Banksia Hill Detention Centre in 2017.

Details surrounding the terrifying May 5 riot were revealed in Bunbury Magistrate’s Court yesterday when a detainee responsible for nearly $500,000 of the damage was sentenced.

Numerous tools were used as weapons to threaten both staff and other detainees in the riot, including an angle grinder which was also used to cut through fences and release prisoners.

Detainees used a buggy to drive through doors, gaining access to a recovery room where tactical jackets were taken and used in the riot.

A blow torch was used to start several fires at the Canning Vale facility with a scrub fire needing to be extinguished.

Walls were daubed with black spray paint, doors and gates were broken and set on fire and 188 windows were smashed in the riot.

Detainees pulled up brick pavers to smash windows before climbing on workshop and shed roofs, gaining access and stealing the numerous tools.

The incident lasted about three hours after officers stormed the facility.

One of the detainees, Jarrod Kim May, 19, was held responsible for $500,000 of the damage with his lawyer arguing he “just joined in on the adventure”.

May appeared in the Bunbury court via video link from Acacia Prison yesterday.

He is already serving a four-year, three-month jail term for an unrelated offence that occurred on the same day as the riot, the court was told.

Defence lawyer Ntuthuko Mcingolwane argued that May played a “lesser” role in the ordeal and he had joined in because he was “frustrated” over not being able to attend his brother’s funeral.

He said May did not get involved in some parts of the riot and he was one of the first detainees to stop.

Police prosecutor Sgt Jo Morrissey responded that a message needed to be sent to the community and said the facility was meant to restore order, but that did not happen that night.

Magistrate Belinda Coleman described the incident as “completely unacceptable” and “extremely dangerous” and said it was “very lucky” no one was killed or seriously injured and the entire facility was not burnt down.

Magistrate Coleman said she had tempered the sentence due to May’s young age and the significant sentence he was already serving.

Taking into account accumulation and concurrency, May was sentenced to an extra six months behind bars for his role in the riot and was made eligible for parole.

A co-offender was previously sentenced to 14 months jail for the riot.

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