Former Fremantle Prison guard returns behind bars


William ‘Bill’ Lehane with his plaque for 40 years of service. Picture: Leah Roberts
William ‘Bill’ Lehane with his plaque for 40 years of service. Picture: Leah Roberts

ENSURING prisoners did not escape was part and parcel of William ‘Bill’ Lehane’s job at Fremantle Prison, where he worked for part of his 40-year career.

Last week Mr Lehane returned to his former workplace after a 21-year hiatus as part of a community trip with St Ives.

The former officer and carpentering instructor said he started as an ordinary prison guard at Fremantle Prison before being moved to Karnet Prison.

“Then a vacancy came up in Barton Mill prison for a maintenance man, which I got,” Mr Lehane said.

“There was a prison industrial fund which was set up where prisoners would work with me in the workshops making good quality furniture, toys and other items.

“Everyone was really supportive of the project. I made sure all the prisoners working with me earned the same money.”

Mr Lehane said he found that when the inmates were interested in the work they were much happier.

“As soon as you got them interested in what they were doing and gave them encouragement, praise, they were much happier,” he said.

“One time I was walking in Perth Arcade and someone tapped me on the shoulder and it was a former inmate who thanked me all the help I gave him.

“Another time a former inmate and his fiance came to my house three days before their wedding and he thanked me again.

“I didn’t really do anything though, they were the ones who did most of the work.”

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