Ballarat man played ‘disgraceful’ role in Victoria’s largest prison riot

A Ballarat man who played an “extensive” role in Victoria’s largest ever prison riot will spend years behind bars.

Troy Barnes, 24, was one of 120 inmates who rioted at the Metropolitan Remand Centre on June 30, 2015, causing $12 million in damages in protest against an impending smoking ban.

County Court judge Lisa Hannan said Barnes, who at one stage during the riot hurled tear gas at prison staff, was an “enthusiastic participant”.

Barnes, who had attempted to shield his identity by covering his face with a t-shirt, was captured on CCTV cameras using a table leg to smash glass, throw objects at prison staff and looting the prison’s canteen. 

Minutes later he used a metal pole to gain access to a breathing apparatus which he put on and was wearing when he threw tear gas canisters at the prison’s guards.

The court also heard Barnes was seen doing donuts in a motorised buggy, which he also used to ram a number of interior fences.

This allowed other prisoners to force their way into a building where high-risk offenders were located, and released.

In the weeks following, Barnes was overheard on a phone call describing the riot as “grouse”, the court heard.

Judge Hannan said this was a serious example of a riot given Barnes and the other inmates “acted in the face of law enforcement personnel seeking to discharge their duties and functions.”

“You were actively involved over about four-and-a-half hours,” she said.

“In my view you clearly intended to participate in the riot, you were not simply a follower.

“You were intent on causing destruction and alarm.”

While Judge Hannan said she accepted Barnes did not plan the riot, or directed others, it was clear from an early stage he was an “enthusiastic participant”.

She also spoke of the prison’s staff who had been impacted by the riot at the Ravenhall site, with some still having flashbacks.

“We all have a right to work in our community without being subjected to this disgraceful conduct,” she said.

Barnes was jailed for three years over the riot. He was also jailed for 17 months, 10 of which will be served cumulative with the three year sentence, for a number of thefts and dishonesty charges from the Ballarat region in early 2016.

Judge Hannan said the Ballarat offending, which involved the theft of a number of cars and occurred within weeks of Barnes being released from custody and returning to drug use, was concerning.

While she took into account the fact Barnes’ life had been marred by “deprivation and disadvantage”, she said the court would not tolerate this type of offending.

“The reality is you will be released into the community and your rehabilitation is the community’s best protection,” she said.

“Unfortunately, at this time I think your best prospects of rehabilitation are at best guarded, and unless, and until, you deal with the drug addiction which has underpinned your offending whilst in the community, in my view the risk is significant.”

Barnes will need to serve two years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.

He has already served 406 days.