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Corrupt corrections officer supplied and used drugs, says ICAC

Thursday 26 September 2013

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that NSW corrections officer Robert Di-Bona engaged in corrupt conduct by supplying steroids to a colleague and a former inmate, and that Mr Di-Bona attended work under the influence of prohibited drugs.

In its report, Investigation into the possession and supply of steroids and other matters involving a Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) corrections officer, released today, the Commission finds that, in December 2012 and February 2013, Mr Di-Bona supplied prescribed restricted substances (steroids) to fellow CSNSW officer, Christopher Warren, for cash payment. Both men worked at the Metropolitan Special Programs Centre (MSPC) at the Long Bay Correctional Complex. Mr Warren engaged in corrupt conduct by purchasing, and subsequently possessing, the steroids. Both men also engaged in corrupt conduct by failing to report each other's use of steroids in accordance with the disclosure obligations imposed on them by CSNSW's Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy.

The Commission finds that Mr Di-Bona also acted corruptly by attending work on two occasions while under the influence of a prohibited drug, commonly known as "ecstasy". One of these incidents involved a "tower duty" shift, where corrections officers are required to use their powers of observation to detect any changes in daily routine. Officers on tower duty also carry weapons which act as a visual deterrent to escape. Mr Di-Bona confirmed in his evidence to the Commission that he carried a firearm for this shift.

Other findings against Mr Di-Bona include that he sold steroids to a former CSNSW inmate, known as "NL", on at least three occasions between late 2012 and early 2013 in exchange for cash payment, and he also failed to disclose his relationship with NL, someone classified as an "offender", contrary to CSNSW's Contact with Offender Policy. A further corrupt conduct finding is made against Mr Di-Bona for using his mobile telephone on numerous occasions while on duty at the MSPC for social purposes; the possession of a mobile telephone within a correctional centre is unlawful, including by a CSNSW employee.

The ICAC is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Mr Di-Bona for six offences of giving false evidence to the Commission contrary to section 87 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988. The Commission is also of the opinion that consideration should be given by CSNSW to the taking of disciplinary action against Mr Di-Bona with a view to his dismissal, and the taking of disciplinary action against Mr Warren for his use of steroids.

The evidence obtained in this investigation from compulsory examinations and from the use of lawful electronic surveillance devices established that Mr Di-Bona had supplied steroids to a fellow CSNSW employee, maintained a personal relationship with a former inmate and supplied that person with steroids, attended work while under the influence of a prohibited drug on two occasions, and repeatedly used his mobile telephone while on duty at the MSPC contrary to NSW law. In these circumstances, the Commission determined that it was neither necessary nor in the public interest to conduct a public inquiry, which would merely duplicate the evidence already obtained, would not materially assist the investigation, and would necessarily delay the publication of the investigation report, its findings and recommendations.

The Commission also took into account that this investigation followed soon after an ICAC public inquiry concerning similar allegations involving another CSNSW employee at the MSPC, and that corruption prevention recommendations it made to CSNSW in that report of 25 January 2013 have been accepted and CSNSW has indicated that they will be fully implemented.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801

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