A man facing Griffith District Court on child sex abuse charges allegedly attempted to slit his wrists and throat in a court room while awaiting a trial outcome recently.
It is believed the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was before a judge and jury as it handed down a guilty verdict when it became apparent he had injured himself.
He was transported to Griffith Base Hospital with self-inflicted wounds to his wrists and neck after allegedly smuggling a sharp object into court.
A spokesperson for the NSW Sheriff said the office declined comment, saying the Sheriff, "does not comment on security issues relating to NSW courthouses”.
The defendant has been refused bail and awaits sentencing.
The incident has seen the NSW Government come under fire for their handling of security and funding in regional court rooms.
NSW Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch accused the Berejiklian Government of “sitting on its hands” when it comes to court security.
“Although the Government is secretive about the number of sheriff officers they employ, it seems less than 250. There are simply not enough sheriff’s officers to provide proper security at our court houses,” he said
“It’s serious enough that several years ago magistrates complained. Despite that, and despite Labor raising this issue, the Government has sat on its hands.”
A spokesperson for the NSW Attorney General did not comment further on the Griffith incident itself, but commended the NSW Sheriff on their work.
“Sheriff’s officers undergo rigorous training to ensure they are prepared to handle security incidents at courthouses and keep court users safe,” they said.
“They do a remarkable job. The Sheriff is continually reviewing security at court houses across the state as required.”
At courts in Wagga and Albury, where District Court also sits, metal detectors are in place.
Across the border in Wodonga, scanners were installed and new security personnel hired last December amid concerns about violence at venues.
There are currently about 150 court complexes in within NSW.
The NSW Sherriff and Attorney General were questioned over an alleged shortage of sheriff’s officers in Newcastle courtrooms in 2013, a claim they denied.
Two years later then-Attorney General Brad Hazzard said Australian Federal Police were conducting a review into court security across the state at his own request.
Griffith-based criminal defense lawyers Piers Blomfield and David Davidge both agree security protocols need to be reviewed in light of last week’s incident.
Mr Davidge said this incident was the first of its kind during his time in Griffith.
“We had quite a critical incident here on Friday and I commend the way it was handled by the sheriff and security,” he said.
“Security is paramount in these situations, but we also have to consider the impact on the day-to-day operations of the court house. The court is an important hub within the community. I encourage community discussion around this issue.”
Mr Blomfield feels security protocols may need reevaluating in light of recent events.
“Up until recently it appeared we didn’t need these kinds of security measures because we weren’t a bigger place like Wagga.”
“Griffith is more genteel and a place where people were taken at face-value.
“The incident may encourage the justice department to upgrade Griffith security to that of larger regional centres like Wagga.”