Former Northern Territory prison guard asked boy for fellatio 'as a joke'

Conan Zamolo, who worked at Don Dale youth detention centre, tells royal commission he dared a child to ‘eat shit’ and also filmed a boy urinating

A former Northern Territory youth prison guard has admitted to jokingly asking detainees to perform oral sex on him, urging a child to eat faeces and filming a boy urinating.
A former guard at the Don Dale youth detention centre in Darwin gave evidence on Monday to the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory.



Appearing before the juvenile justice royal commission, the former Don Dale detention centre youth justice officer Conan Zamolo rejected allegations by three detainees that he recorded a child masturbating in the shower.

The inmates claimed they saw vision of a naked boy on Zamolo’s phone, but he said he only led them to believe he had done it.

“I never recorded no kids in the shower. I may have pretended to ... I’m not a bully,” he told the royal commission on Monday.

Police investigated the claims but Zamolo was not charged in relation to the incident, only with steroid possession after officers searched his house.

Zamolo said he was “just mucking around” when he dared a child to “eat shit” and posted the footage on social media app Snapchat in 2014.

“It’s just the kids goofing around. Something to pass the day,” Zamolo told the inquiry’s Darwin hearing on Monday. “I can see now it was inappropriate.”

Another clip filmed by the guard late at night shows a boy hiding under his sheet in his cell when Zamolo calls out and makes a reference to fellatio.

“I was actually just going to say goodnight to them because I was leaving shift,” Zamolo said. “I knew they’d take it as a joke, or I just assumed they would take it as a joke.”

Other vision filmed by Zamolo showed a boy looking uncomfortable while urinating in a toilet late at night, when the guard says: “Oi, what are you doing, you little gay dog?”
The guard was never disciplined for any of those incidents, but was later sacked for an unrelated matter.

Zamolo told the children’s commissioner that a female guard once kicked a 13-year-old detainee in the guts and called her a “fucking slut”, while another worker called a boy a “stupid black cunt” for taking too long for a toilet break.

Zamolo was on duty when six boys were teargassed in August 2014 after one escaped from solitary confinement and began trashing an exercise yard with a fire extinguisher.

He denied he was involved in the gassing decision and admitted a report filed with police claiming that five escaped detainees had assaulted guards with shards of glass, bricks and steel poles was inaccurate.

John Lawrence, the barrister for the boy identified as AD, suggested Zamolo and fellow ex-guard Ben Kelleher could have dealt with the situation without using gas.

“You two could have taken him easily ... no gas, no dramas, he’s arrested,” he said.

“I guess so, but at the same time we were putting ourselves at risk,” Zamolo said. “We could have copped a fire extinguisher over the head.”

Zamolo said he witnessed an “angry” Kelleher attempting to cover a camera and swearing at former inmate Dylan Voller while standing over the cowering boy on his bed.

“I was there if it got out of control,” Zamolo said.

“If Ben attacked Voller, we had to get Ben off Voller ... that’s why I asked another guard to assist.”

Kelleher was due to give evidence later on Monday.


guardian

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