A Northern Territory teenager was forced to shower with adult prisoners and threatened by guards with rape, the juvenile justice royal commission has been told.
A former youth detainee identified as BY has told the inquiry he was sent to Darwin's adult prison from Don Dale Youth Detention Centre after throwing a chair at a guard during a riot at Christmas 2011.
While giving evidence at the Alice Springs hearing, BY said he was kept in solitary confinement and forced to shower with adult inmates. "While I was showering an adult prisoner was standing next to me. I was really embarrassed and scared and I turned to face the wall," he said on Thursday.
The then 17-year-old said officers also spithooded him each time he left isolation to visit a nurse even though he hadn't been spitting. "I couldn't breathe and I didn't know what was going on. I freaked out," he said. BY, who is still in custody, said one guard asked when he'd turn 18 and return to the adult prison, saying "I'll get some of the guys to rape you when you get back."
Once back at Don Dale, BY said he and other inmates were chained to a fence for more than an hour with their arms above their heads in 2012 after one kid sprayed a fire extinguisher into the cells. "One guard grabbed my arms and another put me in a headlock. I think I fainted, dropped to the ground and then they picked me up and they handcuffed me to the fence," he said. The officers took the detainees' bedding and mattresses away after firefighters hosed the cells out."That night we were locked in our cells on the wet concrete with no bedding. I was only wearing jocks. I think some of the kids were naked," BY said. He said he had a sore shoulder after the incident but was denied medical treatment for two months.
BY, who left school in Year 7, said his eyesight had been a problem since he was 12 but he was never tested in Don Dale and had only recently been given glasses.
The grandmother of BY, identified as CA, told the inquiry she was shocked to discover the conditions at Don Dale, stating it was "very frightening, even as an adult". "There was no privacy. The officers were always within earshot. I think BY wanted to tell me things but he couldn't. BY looked scared and down," she said. CA, a suicide prevention trainer who's sat on a government advisory council, said there's been little communication between their family and the justice system.
She had to push the boy's non indigenous mother to get answers because "the attitude changed when I came to the police station".