By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
A female prison guard from New South Wales’ Hunter Region has been arrested after being dobbed in by her colleague for allegedly engaging in an intimate relationship with a former inmate.
NSW Police report that on 27 August 2020, Vicki Greenhalgh was arrested by detectives in her Muswellbrook home after a referral from her co-worker led to the discovery of her having an alleged affair with an inmate who was serving a 19-year sentence for murder at St Heliers Correctional Centre.
Earlier in June, detectives from the Corrective Services Investigation Unit commenced the investigation around the 52-year-old prison guard under Strike Force Canopus.
It is understood Ms Greenhalgh ran rehabilitation programs at the prison, which included appointments in the community, meaning she was in regular contact with her alleged lover.
The prison officer was suspended in June, around the same time the 56-year-old man – who was responsible for a 1998 shooting murder of a man in Wyong – was released.
It is alleged the pair continued to pursue their relationship freely on the outside.
Ms Greenhalgh was charged with engage in relationship with inmate cause safety risk and engage in sexual conduct compromise sentence over the alleged affair.
She was granted strict conditional bail and will appear at Muswellbrook Local Court on 21 September 2020.
The woman’s employment was suspended.
Prison Guard Ninth Officer to Be Charged Under New NSW Government Laws on Jail Staff Who Are Intimate with Inmates
Ms Greenhalgh’s arrest makes her the ninth prison guard to be charged under new laws introduced by the NSW Government in 2018 for jail staff who pursue intimate relationships with inmates.
Speaking of the incident, Commander of the Robbery and Serious Crime Squad, Grant Taylor, said investigations are continuing to work out what exactly happened inside the prison facilities.
“We believe the relationship was ongoing for 12 months,” Commander Taylor said.
“The nature of the relationship was both (in a) sexual and romantic sense, while they were outside of the facility… we are still investigating what happened inside.”
Police will allege in court that the prison guard, who is a Service and Programs Officer for Corrective Services NSW, began a romantic relationship with the 56-year-old man, while he was an inmate at the facility.
St Heliers Correctional Centre: A Minimum-Security Prison Specifically for Males
St Heliers Correctional Centre is a minimum-security facility specifically for males.
According to the Corrective Services website, inmates at St Heliers are required to partake in community involvement.
Specifically, inmates “participate in the development and maintenance of community recreational, sporting and tourist areas; ground maintenance of Memorial Drive and local cemeteries; building and maintenance of the Riding for the Disabled Centre; restoration of community halls; assisting local bushfire brigade services; restoration of disaster-affected areas; local, regional and State community promotions and charity activities”.
Inmates are also required to participate in community projects as part of a Mobile Outreach Program to assist them with their re-integration.
Meanwhile, inmates are trained and employed in six business units including beef production, vegetable farming, welding, spray painting, furniture refurbishment, vegetable preparation, farming, laundry and housing construction.
They are also employed in six service industries, which include catering, ground maintenance, building maintenance, and domestic work.
Section 236Q of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW) prohibits a prison guard from engaging in sexual conduct or any intimate relationship with an inmate where such conduct/relationship ends up compromising the proper administration of a sentence or community based order.
This offence attracts up to 2-years in jail and/or up to a fine of $2,200.
If a correctional employee did not know, while the employee engaged in sexual conduct or an intimate relationship with an inmate or person subject to a community-based order, that the other person was an inmate or subject to the order, it is not considered an offence.
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