Alleged prison rioters face court over violent protest

TEN prisoners charged with causing a riot and forcing a Gatton prison into lock down in protest of a prison-wide cigarette ban faced court for the first time.

Ipswich Magistrates Court heard yesterday 35 prisoners from two security blocks hid their faces and used broom stick handles to smash security glass during a stand off lasting several hours at the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre on May 5.

Thirty of the inmates locked themselves in two exercise yards, while five men climbed on to the prison roof.

Prisoners used papier-mâché to cover CCTV cameras and smashed windows in the officers' quarters during the riot.

A phone was ripped from the wall and a boxing bag damaged during the rampage.

It took police negotiators several hours to coax the prisoners into returning to their cells.

The majority of prisoners hid their faces with clothing to keep their identities and were identified by physical attributes and items of clothing.

Nine of the alleged rioters had their cases adjourned in Ipswich Magistrates Court until July 9.

However Jamaine John Fing, who was due to be released on parole today, applied for bail during his court appearance.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Caldwell told the court Fing was an unacceptable risk to the community.

Sgt Caldwell said Fing wilfully took part in the riot knowing he was due for release in only a few weeks time.

The court heard Fing was among the inmates in the exercise yard and faced charges of rioting and causing wilful damage.

He said detectives returned to the prison to speak with Fing but he refused to be interviewed.

"It shows there is a defiance at authority and if he had behaved himself he would be out tomorrow," he said.

Fing was remanded in custody and will appear in court again this morning.

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The incident occurred overnight.

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