A former Northern Territory youth prison guard who was on duty when boys were tear gassed has told an inquiry he was used as a scapegoat.
Ben Kelleher worked at Darwin's Don Dale Detention Centre in August 2014 when inmates were shackled, spit-hooded and gassed after one escaped from solitary confinement and began trashing an exercise yard.
The youth had been held in isolation for 17 days straight, for up to 23 hours per day, and had complained of being treated "like a dog", the juvenile justice royal commission was told.
Mr Kelleher described the Behavioural Management Unit where the young offender was held as a "s***hole" that was used as a punishment.
The ex-guard also said he had warned his superiors that the youngsters were being kept in stiflingly hot and oppressive conditions.
The escaped boy, known as AD, had been demanding to know when he would be released from isolation.
Mr Kelleher said there were scenes of "complete chaos" with guards armed with shields, batons, helmets and a police dog all "running around like headless chooks".
When the dog scared AD enough for him to tell officers he had given up and wanted to speak to Mr Kelleher, an officer - according to CCTV footage - responded with "no, you've had your chance."
Mr Kelleher told the hearing he could have verbally de-escalated the situation, but the youth and others in the isolation unit were tear gassed shortly after.
On Tuesday, four teenagers suing the NT government over the incident were awarded $53,000 in compensation for being spit-hooded and shackled, but a judge ruled tear-gassing them was both "reasonable and necessary."
Mr Kelleher said Don Dale management had unfairly blamed him and he resigned two months later, claiming he had not received support or training to deal with high-risk kids.
"I never really said anything about how difficult the job was because I didn't want to lose my job," he told the inquiry's hearing in Darwin on Tuesday.
He has been accused of attempting to cover a CCTV camera and swearing at former Don Dale inmate Dylan Voller while standing over the boy as he cowered on his bed.
Mr Kelleher said he had worked with Voller for four years and once took him to his kickboxing bouts, offering it as an alternative path to crime.
"The sport also teaches that there is no pride taken in the ability to hurt someone weaker than you," he said.
"Dylan is a boy who had a bad start and I believe he needs strong male role models in his life."
Earlier, a former Don Dale detainee known as BR gave evidence claiming officers regularly "choke slammed" him and other inmates onto the ground.
BR said he was often put in isolation as punishment for swearing or fighting, and would be strip searched and sometimes denied access to water, a mattress or bedding.
"You stayed in your jocks the whole time you were in the back cells," he said.