Peter Norden AO

Norden Directions has been involved in a series of recent presentations as an Expert Witness:

Decades of Experience in  the criminal justice system

Peter Norden has decades of experience working in the criminal justice system.

This article from The Australian Magazine highlights some of that background in earlier years.  

Click here to download.

Each of these Professional Opinion Reports were provided, on request, to the Supreme Court in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.

The most recent task (May 2022) was in relation to the serious injuries and permanent disabilities incurred by Indigenous Man, Sonny Austin, during his reception and accommodation over a 3-day period in the Melbourne Correctional Centre, which is underground, below the Melbourne Magistrates Court, on the corner of Lonsdale Street and William Street.

This matter was successfully settled in favour of The Plaintiff and a confidential settlement was made by the State of Victoria (1st Defendant) and G4S Custodial Services (2nd Defendant).

The second task was in relation to the murder of Carl Williams in Barwon Prison’s maximum-security unit, Acacia, on 19th April 2010. The Plaintiff was Rebecca Williams, the daughter of Carl Williams. My Expert Witness Report was submitted in December 2014, and the matter was settled out of court in favour of Rebecca Williams. My report was based on extensive knowledge and experience working within maximum security prison environments, and an assessment of the duty of care fulfilled by Victoria Police and Corrections Victoria.

The third case involved a case being heard in VCAT, The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal at Melbourne.  It concerned objections made to a planning application to establish a 96-bed rooming house on a vacant property in Narre Warren South. The application was brought by the City of Casey, on behalf of local residents, who objected to the proposed over-development of the site.  This case was again settled after the planning application was impacted by the direct intervention of the then planning minister, who set much lower limits on the proposed development of the site, at which stage the developer withdrew his application.

My presentation to the court, before the intervention of the State Planning Minister, was based on my prior experience at establishing and managing and supervising social housing programs for people with mental illness, intellectual disability, and histories of drug misuse and violent behaviour. 

The fourth presentation as an Expert Witness was in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, in December 2010. It concerned a case brought by a long-term prisoner in Risdon Prison who had been held in complete isolation in the maximum-security unit in Risdon Prison for a period of more than 4 years. This isolation involved 23 hour a day locked alone in a cell with a maximum of 60 minutes allowed for exercise outside of the isolation cell but still within the isolation unit. This involved the inmate being allowed just one book, no radio, no television, no contact visits, and no contact with any other prisoner. This regime, called the ‘Behaviour Management Program’ was imposed because of the non-cooperative attitude of the inmate, not because of any violent or criminal behaviour.

Justice Wood of the Tasmanian Supreme Court decided in favour of the Plaintiff, finding that the way in which a particular prisoner program at the Risdon Prison Complex contravened the Corrections Act 1997 and breached the defendant’s duty of care to the plaintiff. 

Justice Wood found the Plaintiff’s treatment contravened the Corrections Act which required ‘services and procedures should be fair, equitable, and have due regard to personal dignity and individuality, as far as is consistent with the need for appropriate levels of security and control’.  Justice Wood also found that the Plaintiff had “the right to be provided with information about the rules and conditions which will govern the prisoner’s or detainees’ behaviour in custody”. 

My Expert Witness Report was based on long-term experience of working within high security regimes. 

The fifth report concerned the preparation of an Expert Witness Statement presented to the Supreme Court of Queensland again in relation to the mistreatment and repeated physical assault by other prisoners of a remanded person in the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, in Wacol, Queensland on 15th and 16th January 2010.  

My report focused on the duty of care owed by GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, a private prison consortium that conducted this correctional facility on contract from the Queensland Government.

My report also addressed the question: What could be reasonably expected of a correctional facility management in relation to ensuring the Plaintiff’s safety in custody.   My conclusion was that there had been serious breaches of obligation by the Defendant in relation to that case.   The matter was finally resolved in a substantial out of court financial settlement in favour of The Plaintiff.