NSW prison boss fronts ICAC over 'bashing'

Sarah McPhee

A former manager of security at a NSW jail says he doesn't remember ordering a clean-up after prison guards allegedly bashed an inmate, but admits the incident reports filed are inconsistent with what he saw.

Several officers are accused of using unwarranted force on the man, a bikie associate who cannot be named for legal reasons, in his cell at the Lithgow Correctional Centre in February 2014.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating allegations officers colluded to lie on official reports about the incident, deleted CCTV footage and planted drugs to justify a cell search the next day.

Brad Peebles, who was one of Corrective Services' most senior officials until he was stood aside for the two-week probe, gave evidence at a hearing in Sydney on Thursday.

He told the inquiry then-prison governor John O'Shea got into a heated exchange with an inmate over the intercom about a TV before walking into a common area of the jail and up to the door of the man's cell.

"It was harsh, there's no doubt about it, it was harsh both ways," Mr Peebles said.

"He (O'Shea) actually had a very good way with inmates ... but yes he certainly wouldn't hesitate to dress someone down very severely if the situation required it."

The ex-manager of security said he "vaguely" remembers sticking around until he saw officers from a specially-trained unit, including one with a German shepherd, form up at the cell door.

He later found out the interaction had resulted in a "use of force" and the inmate had been taken to hospital with a black eye, mouth bruising and broken ribs.

Commissioner Stephen Rushton SC asked Mr Peebles if he had told anybody "this has got to be cleaned up".

"No, I don't remember using those terms at all," he replied.

As for whether he was involved in any cover-up, Mr Peebles said: "I can assure you, commissioner, I wasn't."

Ex-senior officer Terrence Walker last week told the inquiry his incident report, including that the inmate was injured when he tripped and fell on a toilet while trying to flush contraband, was "all lies" and Mr Peebles had directed the cover-up.

The inquiry will continue under Mr Rushton on Monday, with Mr O'Shea expected to be the last witness called to give evidence.