Prison officers reportedly took 25 minutes to find a dying Carl Williams in his top security cell at Barwon Prison.
A source told the Herald Sun police and prison bosses were shocked to learn no jail officer was aware Williams had been bashed until 25 minutes after he was attacked with the stem of an exercise bike shortly before 1pm on Monday.
Closed circuit footage depicts one inmate detaching the reinforced seat support from an exercise bike before attacking Williams.
Williams was sitting at a table reading a newspaper when he was ambushed and struck at least eight times in less than 10 seconds. An inmate, “Little Tommy” Ivanovic, then suggested to staff that they should check on Williams. The homicide squad was first notified about the attack shortly before 1.30pm and Williams was pronounced dead by paramedics 17 minutes later.
“He didn’t have a chance,” a prison source told the Sydney Morning Herald. The unit can hold 10 inmates but only three were in the section on the day. Williams was allowed to associate with just two inmates because of fears for his safety, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Although the cameras are usually monitored, a prison officer was busy with other duties at the moment Williams was assaulted.
The source said the delay in reaching Williams had prompted investigators to consider checking prison officers’ bank accounts to see if there had been any suspicious or unexplained cash deposits. Police have established a financial link between the suspect and Ivanovic – one of two inmates present when Williams was attacked.
Meanwhile, the security lapse is being investigated by Victoria Police and Corrections Victoria. A corruption watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity (OPI), will oversee the investigation into Williams’ killing. Hours after police chief Simon Overland admitted there would be repercussions over Williams’ murder, OPI director Michael Strong said he had decided to step in after consulting Deputy Police Commissioner Sir Ken Jones and state coroner Judge Jennifer Coate.
The murder of Williams has opened a new can of worms that includes fears of a renewed gang war, allegations of police corruption and the possible collapse of pending trials. However, Overland said there was nothing to suggest his killing would spark further murders as most of Williams’s allies were either dead or in jail. The man charged with murdering Williams appeared in court yesterday via a video link.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was remanded in custody and will next face court on July 23. The accused, 36, is charged with one count of murder. He fidgeted throughout the court appearance, at times crossing his muscular arms or placing his elbows on a small table before him and holding his hands together, but his face showed little expression.