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Garry Page has served 13 years in prison, between 1976 and 1989, of his indeterminate life sentence after being convicted of  malicious wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. Justice Maxwell deemed it necessary to deliver this sentence on Garry Page on account of his aggressive behaviour.

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While he was growing up, Garry lived with his abusive and alcoholic father. His father knocked him around a lot and forced him to fight. Garry began to retaliate and defended himself in response to the treatment he received from his father. He attacked his father, almost ending his life.

Garry, conscious of his behaviour and concerned about the impact he could have on the people around him, was proactive in seeking a solution. In 1972 Garry went to Callan Park to volunteer to have a bilateral amylgdalotomy, believing this serious surgical procedure could alleviate his aggressive behaviour. At Callan Park, Professor Kicoh diagnosed him as an aggressive psychopath and described his aggression as amounting to a ‘disability’ which warranted the operation. Despite his efforts, the operation did not provide the changes Garry hoped to achieve. The worst effect was the loss of memory, which Garry later found out, was not caused by the operation, but by alcohol consumption.

Garry found himself in a situation where he struggled to control his aggression and stabbed a man in a black out during a confrontation with a man at the Globe Hotel in Albury. He was charged with malicious wounding with intent to inflict grevious bodily harm and was sentenced to an indeterminate life sentence in 1976. Dr Reid, a consultant psychiatrist to the Prison Medical Service, provided evidence at sentencing. He reaffirmed that he was a grossly aggressive psychopath, however the amygdaltomy procedure reduced his aggression to a considerable extent. He also noted that Garry was beyond help, as psychiatric treatment was unlikely to be effective and it was likely that he would reoffend. For Justice Maxwell this made Garry’s indeterminate incarceration necessary for the protection of the public.  This sentence enables Executive authorities to determine if release is appropriate. The severity of the sentence was appealed, arguing that the case did not call for the maximum sentence, but this was unsuccessful.

Corrective Services failed to provide any support for the first nine years while Garry was incarcerated. He felt they were useless and did not assist in empowering him to change his behaviour. Support services were provided externally by Alcoholics Anonymous, in early 1977, where he received particular assistance from members of AA. At the third AA meeting, Jim from Seaforth discussed blackouts which led Garry to associate his experiences to alcoholism and diagnose the problem. Through recognising that alcohol fuelled his violent and aggressive behaviour, Garry was able to learn his triggers and control them so he is better able to self- manage his behaviour.

In 1985 his improvement was further evidenced by his reduced security classification to B, and then in 1986 to C2. He also participated in a bricklaying course and was approved for the Work Release Program in 1987.

In 1989 the Parole Board recommended his release on licence after having spent 13 years 4 months and 16 days in custody. Evidence given by Dr Reid in 1985, painted a picture of a changed man. In meeting with Garry at this time he was described as being cooperative, friendly and reasonable after realising that his behaviour has been connected with alcohol. In giving evidence to the Board Dr Reid explained that Garry’s transformation was remarkable and largely attributed to his proactive engagement with the AA and his commitment to sobriety.

In 2002 his application for the determination of his life sentence was before the Supreme Court. They found that the fears formed in 1976 of the danger Garry could cause have not materialised. The Court fixed his sentence for 20 years, with 15 years non-parole.

Garry continues to attend 3-4 AA meetings a week and has remained sober.  He lives a settled life and assists the community. Garry has been a boxing and martial arts coach at the PCYC at Woolloomooloo for a period of eight years and has lectured teenagers at Randwick TAFE who have come to the attention of police about the problems with breaking the law.

 

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