Two residents have died of suspected overdoses at a facility for the state's most serious sex offenders within the past two months, amid allegations of illicit drug use.
Two 'young men' known to be 'prolific drug users' have been found dead at Corella Place since May 23, a court heard.
The Department of Justice of Community Safety could not comment further on the circumstances of the deaths, nor state how many deaths there had been at Corella Place this year.
"Deaths in correctional facilities are investigated by the Coroner, who also determines their cause," a Department of Justice of Community Safety spokesperson told the Ararat Advertiser.
"We do not comment on deaths that are the subject of an ongoing coronial investigation."
The suspected overdoses come as staff tackle allegations of illicit drug use at the secure facility.
Corella Place is a 40-bed residential facility located next to Ararat's Hopkins Corrections Centre that houses sex offenders who have finished their sentence, but are deemed to be an unacceptable risk to the community.
Residents may be under serious supervision orders that require them to be electronically monitored and prohibits the use of alcohol or drugs. A breach of the order is a criminal offence and can incur a prison sentence.
Recently, a resident appeared at Horsham Magistrates' Court after allegedly taking ice at the facility.
There is no suggestion the man is linked to the deaths of the other residents.
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The court heard the man - who the Ararat Advertiser cannot name - was ordered to take a drug test, in line with standard procedures, after staff suspected he was taking illicit substances.
"In previous days the accused had gone up to staff to say another resident was going to film themselves shooting the accused and kidnapping him if the accused partner's did not traffic drugs into the facility," a police informant said.
"There were texts on the accused's phone saying some other resident was going to kidnap the accused over the fence if drugs were not supplied to a different resident.
"A third party's phone was seized, but there was no indication these threats had been made.
"We see it as an outrageous accusation. (It's a) bit unbelievable that the accused was going to be kidnapped if his partner did not supply drugs."
The police informant told the magistrate the resident's breach was 'timely', as since May 23 'two younger residents have been found deceased'.
The magistrate asked if they were suspected overdoses, to which the informant suggested so and said: "they were prolific drug users".
The resident's urine test allegedly showed 218 micrograms of methamphetamine.
The informant said this was "lower than it should have been", and claimed the man attempted to dilute the sample.
Is the court supposed to chain him up to a board like Hannibal Lecter? Is that my responsibility?- Magistrate
Police allege he received the drugs through the mail, with access to the facility restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The man's defence lawyer did not contest this.
Since March, residents have not been allowed outside Corella Place - except for essential reasons - and face-to-face visitations have also been suspended.
The court heard that under the Serious Offenders Act staff were not legally allowed to screen all mail coming into the facility.
The informant said under certain bail conditions - unrelated to supervision orders - staff would be able to search mail for drugs.
The resident's defence lawyer proposed such a condition could work for his client but was hit back by the magistrate.
"You're overlooking something. That pre-supposes the drugs are coming in his mail. They could be coming in anyone's mail," the magistrate said.
"He's living in a secure facility, and somehow he is getting his hands on illicit substances.
"All this is because your client is recalcitrant to fulfilling his requirements."
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The court heard the man had previously failed drug tests during his time at Corella Place and had a history of diluting samples.
The man's defence lawyer said arrangements could be put in place for staff to take him out of the facility to be tested - sometimes twice a week - to ensure he wasn't taking drugs.
"Is the court supposed to chain him up to a board like Hannibal Lecter? Is that my responsibility?" the magistrate quipped to the defence lawyer.
"The matter is: One, is assuming (mail) is how the drugs are coming in. Two, because he can't control his behaviour the staff now - on top of everything else they have to do - have to take him to the car and watch him give a urine test twice a week.
"What you want me to do is despite the fact he's (ignoring) his responsibilities, you want me to impose restrictions on others so he can meet his conditions.
"There is no onus on him. Everybody else has got to run rings for him."
I'm tired of these sorts of things happening with people coming up from Corella Place.- Magistrate
The defence lawyer agreed the accused had been a burden but said it was just part of the system.
"I understand your honour's concern with resource management, but that's just the reality of a supervision order," they said.
The magistrate said he was losing his patience with Corella Place residents continually appearing before the court.
"I'm tired of these sorts of things happening with people coming up from Corella Place," he said.
The magistrate warned the accused he faced a tougher time if he appeared before him again.
"It annoys me that the answer to your problems is not you having willpower but everyone else jumping through hoops to stop you re-offending," the magistrate said.
"(If) you come back again before me for some offence or with substances in your system; you can sit there and put your hands on your head, pinch your nose, or run your hands through your hair, or whatever pantomimic expressions that show you're disappointed. You've remanded yourself.
"Wake up to the fact you're in a secure facility, and you've got to follow the rules."
The man will appear before the County Court at a later date.
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