SCUM­BAG V KILLER IN JAIL BAT­TLE

GUARD FORCED TO SHOOT TO STOP FIGHT

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - LABOR LEADERSHIP - CRIME RE­PORTER

CON­FRONTING footage has emerged of a con­victed mur­derer bash­ing a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity in­mate dur­ing a vi­cious fight in­side the no­to­ri­ous Goul­burn jail.

The melee was only bro­ken up when a prison guard — fear­ing one of the men would be killed — fired a warn­ing shot.

Killer Joseph Gatt, 28, was re­vealed as one of the fighters in the bloody brawl when he was sen­tenced re­cently to 21 years’ jail for shoot­ing dead a Co­manchero bikie as­so­ciate.

The CCTV video shows more than a dozen in­mates walk­ing around yard 13 at Goul­burn jail about mid­day be­fore Damien Ge­orge, 35, threw a punch at Gatt.

The con­fronta­tion shifted across the yard over to a barb wire fence while in­mates watched on but didn’t in­ter­vene.

One spec­ta­tor was stripped down to his jocks in the mid­day sun and an­other threw a shoe into the air.

A shirt­less Gatt was wear­ing gloves and ap­peared to choke Ge­orge, who had blood pour­ing down his face, up against the yard fence.

Ge­orge is serv­ing time for shoot­ing his girl­friend Rosanna Robert­son in the back of the head af­ter a night at the pub in West Ryde in 2007.

Gatt laughed as he wrapped his hands around 35-year-old Ge­orge’s neck then punched him sev­eral more times be­fore he dropped to the ground in the fight which oc­curred in Jan­uary, 2016.

Other pris­on­ers were seen pat­ting Gatt on the back be­fore they all scat­tered when a prison of­fi­cer fired a warn­ing shot into a wall, fear­ing Ge­orge was go­ing to die.

Guards had not en­tered the yard to stop the brawl be­fore the shot was fired af­ter about two min­utes.

The con­fronta­tion was de­tailed when Gatt was sen­tenced this year to 21 years’ jail for mur­der­ing bikie as­so­ciate Bassil Hi­jazi at Bex­ley in 2013.

Gatt and Ge­orge were both charged with affray af­ter the melee — which prison sources de­scribed as tame com­pared to other in­ci­dents of jail-yard vi­o­lence — but the charge against Ge­orge was later with­drawn.

He spent five days in con­fine­ment in­stead, af­ter be­ing treated in Goul­burn Hos­pi­tal for his in­juries. Gatt was sen­tenced to 22 months’ jail.

A Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices spokes­woman said the footage was an ex­am­ple of the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions of­ten con­fronting prison of­fi­cers.

“Any re­sponse to in­ci­dents is care­fully con­sid­ered and re­spond­ing teams only in­ter­vene once they are ad­e­quately pre­pared with safety equip­ment and it is safe to pro­ceed,” she said.

Prison Of­fi­cers Vo­ca­tional Branch vice-chair Ja­son Charl­ton said bru­tal fights be­tween pris­on­ers was “un­for­tu­nately what hap­pened in jail”.

Prison of­fi­cers had to weigh up the risk of be­ing am­bushed by in­mates or as­saulted be­fore de­cid­ing whether to in­ter­vene.

“We are told to stand and put our own safety first and not go in un­til there is ad­e­quate staff,” he said.

“There is al­ways safety con­cerns at Goul­burn be­cause of the type of in­mates it holds and they are al­ways go­ing to be on high alert.”

Gatt and Ge­orge fight in the yard of Goul­burn jail.

Joseph Gatt.

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