By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
Stuck in the confines of a correctional facility, where the comfort of contraband is a mere figment of the imagination, there are no means too extreme or absurd for the prisoner who is desperate to get their hands on prohibited items.
From alcohol and drugs, to cigarettes and even mobile phones, in the fight for a fix, inmates and their suppliers have come up with all kinds of inventive ways to smuggle in everyday items and banned goods – carrier pigeons, drones and cereal boxes highlight only a few.
Now, in a bizarre new stunt, a tennis ball stuffed with drugs has become the latest inventive measure to supply contraband to inmates.
The tennis ball was allegedly attempted to be tossed over the fence of a correction facility in NSW’s Hunter region by two men trying to reach an inmate.
A Case of Bad Timing: How the Men Were Discovered
NSW Police reports that at around 2pm on 31 May 2020, a 31-year-old man and another man, believed to be his accomplice, were riding on an unregistered Yamaha motorcycle in Cessnock.
Incidentally, the motorcycle was suspected to be stolen from a property in Dora Creek earlier in May.
The two men rode to the correctional facility in Cessnock, and upon arriving, approached an outer wall of the premises.
It was at this point that the men allegedly attempted to throw the tennis ball over the wall in the hopes of it reaching an inmate.
However, in a turn of events, as the pair prepared to toss over the tennis ball, officers from Corrective Services NSW’s Security Operations Group happened to be carrying out targeted surveillance at the complex, leading them to spot the men.
They advanced on the duo, who quickly absconded on the motorcycle.
Nevertheless, much to the men’s bad luck, their efforts to swiftly flee failed as they soon collided with a nearby tree.
Fortunately, neither rider was injured.
Corrective Services Officers Restrain Man as Accomplice Flees into Bushland
Corrective Services officers were able to restrain the 31-year-old man, however, his counterpart managed to bolt into surrounding bushland.
A short time later, officers from the Hunter Valley Police District arrived at the scene and arrested the 31-year-old man.
Police detained the tennis ball, which he was still holding onto at the time of his arrest.
It is alleged the globe contained small amounts of methylamphetamine along with other illicit substances – that were issued for further testing.
The man was transported to Maitland Hospital before being conveyed to Maitland Police Station.
Man with Tennis Ball Charged with Eight Offences
Following the incident, the man was charged with eight offences, including bringing a prohibited drug/plant into a place of detention.
His other charges included two counts of supply prohibited drug, possess prohibited drugs, goods in custody, enter enclosed land not prescribed premises without lawful excuse, take and drive conveyance without consent of owner, and drive motor vehicle during disqualification period
The man was refused bail to face Newcastle Local Court in June.
More than 550 People Busted for Smuggling Contraband in 2017: The Problem of Trafficking in NSW Prisons
In NSW, smuggling contraband into prisons is proving to be a mounting problem for Corrective Services.
In 2017, figures released by NSW Corrections Minister, David Elliott, showed more than 550 people were busted trying to smuggle contraband into NSW prisons.
The figures also revealed that more than 67,000 visitor searches were conducted between January and August.
Additionally, it was found that almost 400 visitors were denied entry to the state’s 36 jails, while 154 people were charged with attempting to smuggle contraband, including drugs, weapons and needles.
Speaking of the grim issue, Minister Elliott warned visitors trying to bring in prohibited goods that they will be caught and penalised appropriately, admitting that too much contraband was finding its way into jails.
“We know most contraband is introduced by visitors and handed over during visits and this type of behaviour is unacceptable” Minister Elliott said.
“My message to anyone visiting a NSW prison is clear: If you attempt to bring in contraband you will be caught and punished.”
Of the drugs confiscated, 148g of methamphetamine were found, while 392g of marijuana, 2.8kg of tobacco and 911 strips of Buprenorphine or “bupe” – a prescription drug used to treat opiate dependence, were also discovered.
Along with drugs, officers also exposed visitors trying to smuggle 33 weapons, 11 firearm rounds, 422 syringes and 41 needles.
Regardless of how talented you may be at inventing creative smuggling techniques, in NSW, there are certain items that are absolutely prohibited from entering a prison or place of detention.
These items include drugs, alcohol, mobile phones, syringes, tobacco, lighters, sim cards, offensive weapons and computers.
Should you be caught smuggling any of these items you can face very serious penalties, which include substantial fines and even jail time.
In NSW, the law on trafficking drugs into a place of detention is reflected in section 253C of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999.
Section 253C makes clear that any person who smuggles, or attempts to smuggle without lawful authority either a prohibited drug constituting no more than a small quantity of the substance, or a prohibited plant, can face a maximum penalty of a fine of $5,500 and/or two years in jail.
It should be noted that even simply attempting to smuggle in such contraband can leave you guilty of an offence.
Have a question on this topic? Get in touch with our friendly team of experienced criminal lawyers in Parramatta and Sydney today.