Five mates of 'boy in the hood' Dylan Voller who were called the Territory's 'worst of the worst'

By Candace Sutton

One of Dylan Voller's five mates is cuffed and put in a spit hood back in his Don Dale cell. Photo / ABC
One of Dylan Voller's five mates is cuffed and put in a spit hood back in his Don Dale cell. Photo / ABC

They are the five best mates of Dylan Voller, the boy pictured in a "spit hood and restraints" in Darwin's horrific Don Dale juvenile facility.

Voller and the five boys forged a friendship in the worst of circumstances, locked up as children in "appalling conditions" in adjoining cells in the infamous detention centre and deprived of access to light and water.

Voller, now aged almost 19 and older than most of the boys, has remained loyal to "my mates" as he serves a sentence in an adult prison for car theft and assault.

It can be revealed that the five young men are among the Northern Territory's "lost boys", all former juvenile inmates of Don Dale.

The five all escaped together from the facility in 2014 when they were boys aged between just 14 and 17 years old.

The following year, two of the group made another daring escape from the facility.

Then 48 hours later the pair spectacularly crashed back into the detention centre in a stolen car.

The image of Dylan Voller, hooded, shackled and strapped to a mechanical restraint chair in Northern Territory detention has gone around the world. Photo / ABC
The image of Dylan Voller, hooded, shackled and strapped to a mechanical restraint chair in Northern Territory detention has gone around the world. Photo / ABC

Territory youth workers have told news.com.au that some of the group are juveniles later described by NT Attorney-General John Elferink as "the worst of the worst" and "villains".

However Dylan Voller is taking the Northern Territory Government to court for unspecified damages over its treatment while juveniles in custody.

And he and some of the young friends he made in juvenile detention are set to be subject of a Royal Commission into the Territory's treatment of children in custody.

The Federal Government has appointed two new people to lead the commission after the initial appointee Justice Brian Martin resigned.

Justice Margaret White AO and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Social Justice Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission Mr Mick Gooda will now head the investigation.

One juvenile counsellor said that among Dylan Voller's five friends were young men "traumatised" by being in custody at the Don Dale centre and offenders who "had been locked up as adults and denied proper counselling".

Some of the young men were in the group that was tear-gassed inside Don Dale following an alleged riot.

The aftermath of the scene formed part of the ABC-TV program which made shocking revelations of the custodial treatment of NT aboriginal youth.

Dylan Voller is taking the Northern Territory Government to court. Photo / Facebook
Dylan Voller is taking the Northern Territory Government to court. Photo / Facebook

Images of Dylan Voller shackled and restrained in a chair and his head covered in a spit hood made headlines around the world.

After the boys were tear-gassed, the youngest was illegally taken to the adult prison, believed to be the Holtze facility in Darwin.

Mr Elferink described some of the youths being held in the adult Holtze facility as "villains".

The escape from Don Dale by Dylan Voller's five friends on August 2, 2014, allegedly led to their subsequent tear-gassing.

One of the boys, pictured age 14 in a juvenile solitary cell. Photo / ABC
One of the boys, pictured age 14 in a juvenile solitary cell. Photo / ABC

The boys escaped from the facility around 8pm. Three of them were recovered swiftly, with the youngest, aged 14, and one of the 15-year-olds being the last two returned to custody.

Following their recapture, the five boys were placed in the isolation wing of the prison for between 15 and 17 days, in what both children and staff later described as appalling and inhumane conditions.

Locked in their cells for almost 24 hours a day with no running water and little natural light, the boys were denied access to school and educational material.

Weeks later, the 14-year-old tried to break free from his cell. After 50 minutes, guards sprayed tear gas into the isolation unit, which included five other juveniles, exposing them to the gas for up to eight minutes.

A cell inside the Don Dale juvenile centre where young Aboriginal boys were allegedly abused. Photo / ABC
A cell inside the Don Dale juvenile centre where young Aboriginal boys were allegedly abused. Photo / ABC

In June the following year, six Don Dale inmates armed themselves with makeshift weapons and began trashing Don Dale's B-block as guards watched on.

After spending more than 20 minutes ransacking two accommodation units and the centre's education facility, five of the offenders forced their way onto the centre's roof.

Four of them then breached Don Dale's internal fence, with two members of Dylan Voller's group again escaping from the Don Dale centre.

The pair made it over the fence around 7.30pm on the Sunday night and stole a car to visit one of the boys' mothers in a Darwin suburb.

Less than 48 hours later, the two 16-year-olds returned, crashing back through the roller doors of Don Dale in their stolen Toyota Yaris.

TRG, Metropolitan Patrol Group and dog squad units arrested the two young men.

Dylan Voller has now launched court action seeking damages from the Government for injuries caused during his incarcerations.

The image of Dylan Voller, hooded, shackled and strapped to a mechanical restraint chair in Northern Territory detention has gone around the world. Photo / ABC
The image of Dylan Voller, hooded, shackled and strapped to a mechanical restraint chair in Northern Territory detention has gone around the world. Photo / ABC

- news.com.au

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