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​​Remembering our frontline officers who lost th​eir lives


Issued: Friday, 25 November 2016

Twelve NSW custodial officers fatally attacked by inmates will be remembered today as Corrective Services NSW commemorate the staff who lost their lives on duty.

CSNSW Remembrance Day is held annually and also marks the lives of staff who died while employed and those who died after retiring.

Commissioner Peter Severin said the day was an important reminder of the risks frontline officers face each day when dealing with violent criminals.

"Our custodial and community corrections officers work among some of the most dangerous offenders, who can often be unpredictable" Mr Severin said.

"Many people in the community don't understand the challenges our staff face each day because - unlike other frontline workers such as ambulance officers and fire-fighters - the work they do happens behind the prison walls.

"CSNSW Remembrance Day is an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives while on duty and remind the public of the critical work our staff do."

Guns, hammers, axes, cricket stumps and baseball bats have all been used by inmates to fatally attack staff, with 12 officers killed in the past 174 years.

The first officer killed on duty was Henry Kingsmill Abbott who was working at Parramatta Gaol in 1842 when he was attacked by prisoners attempting to escape. Officer Abbott stood his ground to foil the escape but was fatally shot.

In 1867 Officer John Carroll was seconded to NSW Police to lead a party of 'special constables' to hunt down and capture notorious bushrangers, the Clarke gang. The party was ambushed near Jinden Station at Braidwood and executed by gunshots.

More recently, Corrective Services NSW lost Wayne Harold Smith, who was attacked by an inmate at Silverwater Correctional Centre in December 2006. Officer Smith sustained severe head injuries and died in hospital on 25 January 2007.

Officer Smith was remembered, along with other correctional officers who have died, at a memorial service on Friday at Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy.

Officer Smith's family attended the ceremony along with family members of the late Thomas Craig, who was fatally attacked at Berrima in 1862; John Colin Mewburn, who was killed at Long Bay in 1979; and Geoffrey Pearce OAM, who died in 1997 after being attacked at Silverwater.

The other six officers who died on duty were George Spinks at Windsor in 1869, John Sutherland Brown at Cootamundra in 1908, Alan Cooper at Bathurst in 1958, Albert Hedges at Berrima in 1959, Cecil Mills at Emu Plains in 1959 and Parramatta Jail's Willy Karl Faber in 1978.