I was a Corrective Services Officer for over 5 years. Before that, I served my country in the Australian Regular Army for 25 years, with several operational deployments. I had an unblemished work history within both the Military and Corrections.
During my time within Corrections, I was regularly rostered in high stress response posts, such as the Detention Unit, because I had good communication skills and an impeccable work ethic and I could handle the associated pressure of a response post. This lead me to believe that I was a valued member of the team and that I had proven my skill, through the requirement to handle extremely difficult and volatile situations, including the use force, as required due to these allocated work positions.
In early 2018 I was required to use force to restrain an aggressive prisoner who had assaulted me. Much to my dismay, Management simply turned against me. A complaint was solicited from the prisoner involved, CCTV footage that could help prove I was innocent was deleted, and only the parts that helped the prosecutor were kept. I was collateral damage for someone else’s career advancement. As a result I was marched out of my Centre like I was a criminal. I was given full pay for a period of time but to receive this I was not allowed to contact any of my work colleagues, set foot in a correctional establishment and was not able to be away from my home for more than 3 days without approval. Then after months of no contact or support l was interviewed by police and prosecuted. I was dismayed at the way this was carried out. Luckily for me I found Sibley Lawyers, who fought for me tirelessly, right until I was acquitted. The Judge who ordered my acquittal said I should never have been prosecuted, and yet I was. It was unfair and the Prosecutors seemed intent on getting me convicted, no matter what. To make it worse, Corrections forced me out, terminating my employment on the basis my use of force was not justified or authorised – even though a Court had not yet decided. Sibley Lawyers is now fighting against that wrong as well.
This process has taken 27 months from the time I was wrongfully walked out of my correctional centre until acquittal. One of the only things that kept me going in the fight to clear my name was the support of Justin Sibley who worked tirelessly to right this wrong. I would not hesitate to recommend Justin and his team should you find yourself is a position such as mine. They fight for what’s right!
Warrant Officer Class One, Robert Cotter (Retired)