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Australia Former prison guard Michael Asker faces being jailed alongside the people he used to guard

05:35  25 march  2020
05:35  25 march  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Michael Charles Asker, 66, will be sentenced in the District Court in May after pleading guilty to one count of bribery.

Today, prosecutors called for Asker, a former Army veteran who helped rescue victims of Cyclone Tracy in 1974, to be jailed alongside the prisoners he used to guard.

"The only appropriate penalty is an immediate custodial sentence," prosecutors told the court.

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But Michael Jandy, for Asker, told the court that his client deserved a "second chance" and asked Judge Leisl Chapman to fully suspend any sentence or order home detention.

"He accepts there was some malice towards his employer, perhaps there was misguided loyalty to the prisoners, and their families on the outside," he said.

"He accepts that money was attractive, but it's not what got him into it."

Investigators were watching Asker

The court was told that Asker met a man and was handed a hamburger bag, which contained prescription drug Suboxone and glue used to seal cereal boxes to hide contraband.

He then smuggled those items into Yatala Labour Prison in September 2019 and was paid $250 for doing so.

In December 2019, Asker was handed $500 in a coffee cup and was given another package to smuggle into the prison, but was arrested by police.

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The court heard the second package contained methamphetamine.

Mr Jandy said his client, who had been under surveillance by police, did not know what was in the second package before his arrest by officers.

Asker given love letter addressed to 'Mr Amazing Eyes'

He said Asker started working at Correctional Services in 1992 and had been posted to the Adelaide Women's Prison, at Northfield, but was reprimanded and moved to Yatala Labour Prison.

"A female prisoner proposed to him to go into business to establish a brothel and that my client might invest in it," he said.

"There was no allegation he entertained it seriously, no indication he did anything to engage in that illicit activity — but the vice was not telling management about it.

"He was alleged to have been in possession of somewhat of a love letter, it seems another prisoner had written a love letter addressed to 'Mr Amazing Eyes', signed off, 'Your Girl'.

"That caused him to be reprimanded and that triggered his transfer from the women's prison."

Ex-guard 'disturbed' by treatment of prisoners

Mr Jandy said Asker's work in the Army ignited an "instinct for humanity" where he acted as more of a social worker and became a "bleeding heart".

"He was disturbed by the treatment of prisoners," he said.

"He would witness blind bureaucracy put before the welfare of prisoners and he sought to do what he could in that regard.

"He was a proactive worker, he was driven, and he instructs that he was interested in the welfare of the prisoners - it might be put that he was overly invested."

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