Guard pleads not guilty in inmate beating case

A guard who has already testified in court that he “lost it” when he punched a prisoner at the St. John’s lockup last March is pleading not guilty in his own assault trial.

Guards Michael Hanlon and Wayne Carrigan were charged after Christopher Mahon appeared in court last March with raccoon-like bruises around his eyes.

Hanlon was found not guilty in December.

Carrigan, who testified at Hanlon’s trial, did not appear in provincial court himself on Thursday. His lawyer, Mark Rogers, entered the not guilty plea on his behalf.

At Hanlon’s trial, Carrigan admitted to throwing punches, and said that Mahon had been spitting at guards. Carrigan, who is now retired, testified, “When he spit at me, I lost it … I would rather be punched in the mouth than spit on.”

Outside the court, Rogers said that Carrigan’s statement at the earlier trail cannot be used against him.

“He’s entitled to a fair trial under the charter. He’s going to have to have a different judge hearing the evidence,” Rogers said.

“The Crown has to present the case against Mr. Carrigan, and those statements — he’s subpoenaed to testify at another trial, and that can’t be used at his trial.”

At Hanlon’s trial, a key piece of evidence was security video from the lockup that showed Carrigan striking Mahon.

Rogers would only hint at what Carrigan’s defence might be when his trial begins in June.

“I will say the video is just one piece of the evidence here,” Rogers said.

“There’s more to this story than the video … There’s no secret [about] the state that our prisons are in.”

The sorry state of the lockup was often raised during Hanlon’s trial, and a scathing report into the province’s jails and penal institutions was released last fall, triggering a shakeup in management and procedures.

During Hanlon’s trial, Carrigan testified that he said the force he used was the only way to restrain Mahon, so that guards could close the cell door.

source: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2009/01/16/guard-plea.html?ref=rss

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