Sydney: Four found guilty over Villawood riot, others aquitted

April 17: FOUR men have been found guilty of rioting at the Villawood Detention Centre in 2011 when three buildings were burnt down and pillows and bins set alight.

Twelve men went on trial in February, after being charged with riot and affray at the centre in Sydney’s southwest on April 20, while another was accused of aiding and abetting them. On Wednesday a jury found four of the men guilty of rioting.

At least two others were found guilty of the lesser charge of affray, while others were acquitted altogether. Three men who pleaded guilty to the charges were sentence to between 15 and 18 in jail earlier in April. Another man was sentenced to jail in December.

Previously Justice Hulme had directed the jury to acquit two other men.

On the opening day of the trial, Crown Prosecutor Greg Farmer SC told the NSW Supreme Court that the protest began at 8am with two men sitting on a building’s roof at the centre. By around midnight it had escalated to such a point that staff feared for their safety and decided to evacuate. Shortly after, Mr Farmer said burning wood was thrown through a window and an office caught fire.

During the protest, it was alleged tiles from the centre’s roof were pelted at staff, while a bonfire of pillows, bins and other material was ignited on the centre’s soccer field.

The men found guilty on Wednesday were granted bail to return to Villawood, and will be sentenced at a later date.

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