Inmate jailed over fatal punch

Forensic officers at Wooroloo Prison Farm after the assault. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australia

A teenager committed a "cowardly" and fatal one-punch attack on a fellow prisoner in a WA jail after a minor spat over who could sit where in the dining room, a Perth could was told today.

Robert Thomas Garlett was sentenced to a two-year and eight-month jail term this afternoon after pleading guilty to unlawful assault causing the death of Troy Allan Roginson at Wooroloo prison farm on April 21 last year.

Garlett, who was serving time for aggravated burglary, had been at the minimum security jail for six nights after being transferred from another prison when he had an altercation with the older, bigger prisoner.

The court was told that Roginson, known as Patches by other prisoners, had approached Garlett and a friend and told the pair they were sitting at his table.

The pair pursued Roginson to a bin area outside and Garlett punched him on the chin, causing him to fall and hit his head on the concrete.

Roginson sustained a non-survivable brain injury and died in hospital the following day.

In a letter to the court, Garlett said the confrontation was about where he would be in the "pecking order" of the prison.

"The standover tactic was never going to be settled by a simple apology or handshake" Garlett said in the letter.

But other prisoners who gave statements to investigators said Roginson had not been aggressive during the exchange in the dining room and while there were no seating rules, prisoners were "creatures of habit" and this applied to keeping the "same seat in the mess".

Judge Michael Bowden said the assault was an act of "senseless violence" and an immediate jail term was the only appropriate sentence.

Garlett, who has since turned 20, will be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence, which was backdated to August last year when his previous term was served in full.

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