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Prison officer tells podcast: “An inmate saved my life.”

Last published on 06 Apr 2021 in Media Releases

A Sydney prison officer has revealed in the Behind the Walls podcast how an inmate saved his life by rescuing him from a brutal bashing by a criminal gang.

Metropolitan Special Programs Centre Manager of Security Paul Coyne tells listeners in the podcast’s fifth episode that he was working at the Long Bay Complex in 2003 when the incident occurred.

Download images for ep five here:

“Mutual respect between inmates and officers is really important and I honestly believe that it pretty much saved my life,” Mr Coyne said.

“I was being assaulted at Long Bay when an inmate heard it happening, so he stuck his head out and called for help to my colleagues.

“Then he came flying up and belted one of the inmates so hard I thought he had killed him – he went down like a sack of potatoes – and then he turned to the other two and said, ‘Don’t you ever lay a hand on Mr Coyne again’.”

The veteran prison officer is one of 30 correctional staff from across NSW interviewed for the ground-breaking podcast series, Behind the Walls, which for the first time reveals what really goes on in the state’s prison and parole offices.

Crime author and former journalist Michael Duffy spent six months recording the series at four Community Corrections offices and 11 prisons including Silverwater’s Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre, Long Bay, Bathurst, Lithgow, Kirkconnell, Cooma, Macquarie, Dawn De Loas and Emu Plains correctional centres.

Mr Coyne’s remarkable tale features in the podcast’s fifth episode, Behind the Walls: The Blue and the Green, which will be released on Thursday.

“I think people don't understand, especially on the outside, that we don't have relationships with inmates in the same sense that you would with people in the street,” Mr Coyne said.

“But we build a rapport and we work on respect. And when they do get in trouble, I've had a few of them say, ‘Yeah, no, that's fair enough, Mr Coyne, you always do the right thing. If I did it wrong, I did it wrong. I'll cop that’.

“Sometimes they’ll tell me stuff on the side - on the quiet - that they wouldn't tell anyone else. I've had that a few times, but you have to be careful how you manage that information. You don’t betray that information, but you do use it to your advantage obviously to keep the jail safe.”

Episode five, Behind the Walls: The Blue and the Green will be released on 9 April to listen for free on all good podcast apps. New episodes are dropped every Thursday.

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