A 14-year-old boy told prison officers he couldn’t breathe as they gassed then dragged him from his cell in a Northern Territory detention centre, CCTV vision reveals.
Footage of the incident also shows five other teenagers being gassed with aerosol cans, mocked and manhandled at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.
Unearthed as part of an investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners program, it is reportedly one of many in a string of ‘child abuse’ cases inside Northern Territory detention centres, lawyers told the program.
Described at the time as a ‘riot’, the footage reveals ten bursts of tear gas being sprayed into the enclosure where five of the six boys were kept.
This happened in the space of one and a half minutes, the ABC reported.
The boys can be seen crying, screaming and running away from the bursts.
They try hiding behind their bed sheets from the gas, gasping for air, before they bend over the toilets and retch.
"I can't f*****g breathe," one of the boys cries out.
At this point, prison staff begin laughing and teasing a 14-year-old boy.
“I’ll pulverise the little f*****r,” one prison officer can be heard saying.
Meanwhile, another boy is trapped in his cell with the fumes for almost eight minutes.
Prison officers then don gas masks and drag him out of his cell.
Human Rights Lawyer Ruth Barson told Four Corners that keeping the young teenagers in isolation was a breach of the United Nations Convention against Torture.
At the time of the 2014 incident the former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook defended the officers' actions.
He claimed it was not an overuse of gas.
"I am not in the business of overuse of force. There were two sprays from an aerosol in the area,” he told media at the time.