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Judge backs bikie prisoner who demanded his day in court

A bikie prisoner denied the right to attend court because of overcrowded cells, has resorted to asking the Supreme Court to intervene, forcing Corrections Victoria to take him to his scheduled hearing.

The state's large prison population has caused holding cells to become overcrowded in recent years, leading to delays and increased pressure on the courts and prisons that has outraged police, defence lawyers and civil liberties' groups alike. 

A prisoner arrives at the Supreme Court in Melbourne.

A prisoner arrives at the Supreme Court in Melbourne. Photo: Paul Jeffers

This has particularly been seen in the custody centre under the Melbourne Magistrates Court, where inmates wait to be brought up for court hearings. 

Fairfax Media has reported that Corrections Victoria, which oversees the state's prisons, was forced to pay almost $529,000 in costs for failing to bring 689 people to court between 2013 and 2016. 

Matthew Benvenuto, a member of the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang, did not appear for a scheduled hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning after Corrections Victoria failed to take him there.

His lawyer, Lee Ristivojevic, later asked the Supreme Court to order Corrections Victoria to do so that afternoon.


She said that her client was one of 13 inmates who Corrections had failed to bring to court from Port Phillip Prison for scheduled appearances in recent days.

Mr Benvenuto's case was adjourned until next February as a result.

This meant that Mr Benvenuto, who is currently serving a prison term for other crimes, would also have his application for parole delayed because the Adult Parole Board would not make an assessment until after his most recent charges were finalised, Ms Ristivojevic said.

Justice Karin Emerton said it did not seem to be an "exceptional thing to ask" for the man to be brought to court when he was ordered to appear there: "He should be brought to court."

After a short adjournment, a lawyer for Corrections Victoria assured the judge that they were voluntarily taking steps to bring the man to the Melbourne Magistrates' Court, and he appeared there hours later for his contest hearing.

Magistrates' Court figures revealed in March that in the first seven weeks of 2016, Corrections failed to bring 455 prisoners to their scheduled court appearances.