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Victims to get first call on SA prisoner's legal winnings

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A South Australian prisoner convicted of drug offences has won a $100,000 taxpayer payout over a health complaint but the victims of his crimes will have first access to the funds.

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Corrections Minister Peter Malinauskas says it is “appalling” that prisoner Bruno Tassone, who has won the payout after claiming his diabetes worsened in custody, could receive taxpayer money.

“The idea that we could have a prisoner in the state’s custody receiving money from taxpayers despite his heinous offences – and there are a number of them – I think is appalling,” he told ABC radio today.

But Malinauskas says the funds will be held in a Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund for 12 months that will ensure Tassone’s victims “get access to these funds long before he ever does”.

The minister said Tassone’s original claim was for more than $2 million and he understood the Crown Solicitor’s Office made a commercial decision to offer $100,000 in an out-of-court settlement to save on defence costs.

He said the office rejected a range of the numerous claims Tassone made and have argued that some of his own behaviour has contributed to his health.

At least $40,000 of the settlement money is expected to go to Tassone’s legal team.

Malinauskas said the SA government will consider whether there should be a mechanism in place for the state to recoup funds in situations like these if no victims come forward to claim it.

“We’re going through a process of fixing up elements of the Correctional Services act as we speak and I think this is a reasonable proposition that is worthy of exploration,” he said.

– AAP

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