There is widespread disgust and outrage expressed over the housing together of two convicted prisoners. The partners-in -crime; homosexual lovers Robbie Sebastian Wheeler, 43, and his boyfriend Victor Leslie Urquhart, 46, have been placed together in Hakea jail, in West Australia.
The two men were convicted last month for kidnapping a teenage boy and sexually molesting him for 20 days, before he was rescued. The pair had even plotted to murder the boy and dispose of his body.
AdvertisementAccordingly, Wheeler and Urquhart are spending up to 10 hours a day together behind bars after being separated from the main prison population for their own safety. At night, they sleep in separate cells.
The Secretary of the Prison Officers Union, John Welch will not comment specifically on the case but says overcrowded prisons mean there is less flexibility when prisoners are sent to specialist protection units.
"We've got 500 more prisoners than the system was designed for and that creates a whole range of problems in being able to manage any prisoners, let alone prisoners such as Urquhart and Wheeler," he says.
"So from our point of view it's vitally important that the government moves urgently to build new facilities."
Opposition justice spokesman Rob Johnson was unrestrained in his anger over the situation: "I am appalled that once again the Department of Corrective Services had made a decision not in line with the thinking and wishes of the general public.
"I think parents will be absolutely disgusted that this could be allowed to happen.
"I appreciate that they have to be kept from the main prison population because the main prison population would almost certainly tear them apart if they got their hands on them - as I think many West Australians would.
"But they should not be allowed to spend any time together. They worked together in unison to commit terrible crimes - crimes that frighten the lives out of every parent in WA, that is, having their child abducted and sexually abused.
"They should not be allowed to continue any sort of relationship, sexual or otherwise.
These two people should never have been allowed near each other. That was the cause of the problem in the first place."
The crisis-care unit where the two are housed was built for acute and chronic at-risk offenders who required specialized treatment.
Johnson added: "We should be treating these people as prisoners, not patients.
"Thank God that they were caught and the victim was found in time. They were planning to kill that child. They deserve no comfort or leniency, they should be doing hard labor."
He opined that the pair should also be chemically castrated.
In response, a spokesman for Corrective Service Minister Margaret Quirk said Wheeler and Urquhart were being treated like all other prisoners.
"To suggest their relationship is continuing is quite incorrect because they do not share a cell. They are under a very high level of supervision."
The Department of Corrective Services also released a statement saying it does not comment on the accommodation arrangements of individual prisoners.
"Prisoners in this category are in individual cells and are under very high supervision."