May 11, 2007 12:00am
A RISDON Prison officer entangled in a daring plot to help inmates escape using a gun felt indebted to a hardened criminal who lent him money.
Matthew David Dwyer, 29, of Brighton, had asked a notoriously violent inmate to give him a $1000 loan to cover the costs of horse vitamins.
The Supreme Court in Hobart yesterday heard it led to a "web of his own making" and he began smuggling in mobile phones, drugs and needles for Risdon inmates during April last year.
He also drew up prison plans for inmates and was eventually given a gun to sneak in for the planned prison break-out.
Police had stumbled upon the conspiracy when they tapped a telephone belonging to Damien Steven Matthews for another operation.
They were able to intercept Dwyer while on his way to work and seize the .25 calibre pistol, bullets and a balloon of drugs from his car glovebox.
Crown Prosecutor Daryl Coates said the plot began when Dwyer was working in the segregation area of the prison with inmate Adrian Alwyn Pickett.
As a harness racing trainer, Dwyer needed money to cover horse vitamins worth $800 and asked Pickett for a loan after hearing him brag about his wealth.
It was then, his defence lawyer David Gunson said, that he "went down a path from which he could never return".
"It was naivety beyond belief coupled with stupidity," Mr Gunson said.
He said Dwyer felt too threatened not to help Pickett out.
Dwyer admitted he then received $500 in exchange for bringing drugs and body piercing needles into the prison.
Matthews has denied he was involved in the bribe.
Mr Coates said it was after this that a plan of escape for Pickett and another inmate was hatched with Dwyer and Matthews.
He said Pickett told Dwyer he was to bring a gun in to the prison.
Matthews organised to get the pistol from Jason Paul Gordon.
He said police then saw Matthews putting a white package in Dwyer's car.
When Dwyer left for work the next morning police busted the prison officer with the pistol.
After Dwyer's arrest, Pickett was heard on a tapped phone line saying Dwyer was "pretty sly . . . for a screw".
"He won't give you up," he said.
Pickett was also heard saying he planned to shoot a fellow inmate "in the f...ing head" during the break-out.
Dwyer initially denied knowing anything about the drugs or gun.
But after he was taken into custody, Dwyer asked to see police and admitted to the crimes.
Pickett's lawyer, Kim Baumeler, said the idea to escape started as prison talk that Pickett did not take seriously.
"But if it did happen he wasn't about to say no," she said.
Matthews' lawyer, Garth Stevens, said his client also thought the escape plan was a fantasy.
"He said the men must have been watching too much Prison Break -- the television show*," Mr Stevens said. "It snowballed out of control."
Dwyer yesterday pleaded guilty to corruption of an officer, conspiracy and two drug offences.
Pickett, 29, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and perverting the course of justice.
Gordon, 34, admitted to having possession of a dangerous thing to facilitate a crime.
Matthews, 25, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy but not guilty to bribing an officer.
The four will be sentenced on May 24.
[*Let me know if that defense works.]