Police are investigating a “deeply disturbing” incident in which a Yatala prisoner was drugged, raped and tattooed by fellow inmates over a three-day period.
Police are investigating a “deeply disturbing” incident in which a Yatala prisoner was drugged, raped and tattooed by fellow inmates over a three-day period.

Prisoner drugged, raped and tattooed by inmates

Two major investigations have been launched into a horrific incident at Yatala Labor Prison in which an inmate was drugged, repeatedly raped and tattooed by other prisoners.

The inmate has told prison doctors and detectives he was given a sedative and repeatedly sexually abused by two fellow inmates over a three-day period last week.

The victim, aged in his 20s, was also subjected to extensive tattooing by the inmates, which have been described by sources as "horrific and grotesque''.

The incident occurred in Yatala's F Division, a high-security area that houses prisoners on remand and serving time for a range of offences. The victim, an armed robber, was recently moved there after being housed at Mt Gambier prison.

The incident is now the subject of a criminal investigation by Eastern District CIB detectives and an internal review is being conducted by Correctional Service's investigation and intelligence unit.

Correctional Services chief executive officer David Brown would not discuss the factual details because of the ongoing investigations, but said the incident was "deeply disturbing''.

"Any allegation of assault in a prison is concerning, especially where it is a serious assault,'' he said.

"And an allegation of sexual assault in a prison environment is deeply disturbing and is why the site and the agency responded in the way it did.

"When such allegations come up it is a criminal matter without any question and SAPOL are immediately brought in, sexual assault services are brought into the picture and we are very proactive in gathering evidence and supporting police in the work they are doing.''

Mr Brown said the incident came to light after activities officers at the prison became concerned at the man's condition and took him the prison infirmary for medical treatment. Other staff had also received intelligence about the activity involving the inmate.

It was during his treatment last Friday the inmate advised infirmary staff he had been tattooed against his will while he had been drugged. He also revealed he had been sexually assaulted over several days.


Yatala Labour Prison’s cells in F Division.
Yatala Labour Prison’s cells in F Division.


Mr Brown said incidents such as this were not common, but they had occurred in the past.

"We have seen people charged and convicted for those offences in the custodial environment, but they are not very common at all,'' he said.

He said there were targeted searches of cells in F Division as a result of the intelligence received and prior to the inmate being treated at the infirmary.

"That in fact did result in the separation of two prisoners who were later identified by the victim as perpetrators,'' he said.

Mr Brown said searches of prison cells for contraband - including drugs and tattoo guns - occurred regularly and were "both random and targeted'' based on intelligence.

"Supervision is very targeted in that environment. But when we have an incident like this, of course we look at supervision and how that was deployed as well a look at the conduct and the criminal behaviour of the alleged perpetrators,'' he said.

"I am comfortable there is effective supervision in that environment and the unit is highly controlled and prisoner movement and activity is controlled by the staff, given it is a high-security environment.''

In 2020 there were 560 incidents in which contraband was confiscated in SA's prisons. Of those, 150 were at Yatala.



Mr Brown conceded that Correctional Services had a duty of care towards prisoners and his staff worked hard to "provide a safe and secure environment''.

"But prisons by their very nature, in particular high security prisons, pull together people who are in custody for displaying anti-social behaviour and engaging in violent acts,'' he said.

"We are very alert to those risks and respond to those risks but we can't prevent all incidents from occurring in a correctional environment.''

In 2006, convicted killer Bevan Spencer von Einem was the subject of an intensive criminal investigation after a fellow inmate alleged he had been subjected to repeated sexual assaults over an 18-month period while being housed in B Division.

The man told detectives von Einem had coerced him, telling him his mother could be "got'' by his friends unless he co-operated. Von Einem was never charged over the sexual assaults because prosecution authorities felt it was unlikely he would be convicted because of the circumstances. He was subsequently transferred to Port Augusta Prison.

Originally published as Yatala prisoner drugged, raped and tattooed by fellow inmates

-0.4C! Southeast shivers through coldest morning of year

Premium Content -0.4C! Southeast shivers through coldest morning of year

In one town it felt like it was 0 degrees after wintery blast

Jab now a sore point for a PM under fire

Premium Content Jab now a sore point for a PM under fire

The Prime Minister has been forced to defend the slow vax rollout

Blame game over $5.85b roadworks backlog

Premium Content Blame game over $5.85b roadworks backlog

Cost of required works on Queensland’s state controlled roads has soared