A PAIR of Townsville prison guards have kept their jobs after uncuffing a prisoner and setting him free at an airport.

Prison sources told the Townsville Bulletin about the bizarre bungle that happened last month, saying the prisoner was meant to be handed over to police at Townsville Airport to be flown to Palm Island and attend court.

Instead, two Correctional Emergency Response Team officers, who are some of the most highly-trained prison personnel, reportedly took off the prisoner's handcuffs and left him at the airport on his own.

The prisoner was left to his own devices for more than an hour before police arrived to find the man alone.

A source said the police officers were shocked to find the man by himself, but it is understood senior police were not briefed by Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) about the incident.

Townsville Correctional Centre (Stuart Prison). Picture: Alix Sweeney
Townsville Correctional Centre (Stuart Prison). Picture: Alix Sweeney

It is understood the prison officers misread paperwork, but QCS was tight-lipped about the whole ordeal.

A spokeswoman from the department refused to confirm any of the details, saying the incident was subject to an investigation and they would not be commenting further.

"An internal investigation is under way into these allegations," the QCS spokeswoman said.

"As such, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

"Queensland Corrective Services expects all officers to perform their duty lawfully, ethically and professionally."

It is not known what sentence the prisoner was serving.

Townsville Correctional Centre. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Townsville Correctional Centre. Picture: Shae Beplate.

A prison source told the Bulletin one of the officers was experienced, while the other was new.

In usual circumstances, the source said transfers were a relatively simple process where the prisoner was switched out of Queensland Corrective Services cuffs and into Queensland Police handcuffs at the handover.

It is understood the officers have not been stood down from their roles.

The stuff up is the latest issue to come out of the scandal-plagued prison, which has been the subject of overcrowding and a toxic workplace culture.


Originally published as Prisoner uncuffed, set free in massive mess up