Spit, shivs and threats: gang leader's shocking record in Canberra jail

Damien Featherstone.
Damien Featherstone.

The self-appointed head of a notoriously violent criminal gang from NSW who was found guilty of an ice-fueled crime rampage in Canberra has threatened to stab and spat at corrections officers during his time in custody in the territory.

In an appalling and extremely violent disciplinary record detailed in court documents, Damien Featherstone, 30, has also been caught with improvised bladed weapons, mobile phones, and drugs, got into a knife fight with another detainee using a weapon made out of a toothbrush and razor blade, spat at a nurse who was trying to help him and threatened to burn down his cell and screamed at corrections officers, telling one he knew his home address and would have him shot, and telling another "do you know who I am and what I'm capable of?".

He and his co-offender Rodney Bloxsome threw gym equipment and garbage bins at a window in the exercise yard and Featherstone headbutted a correctional officer saying "I will get you again and again and your family, you're a dog c--t."

Featherstone has been in custody in the ACT since March last year but was already a well-known criminal identity in the NSW Illawarra region.

He has some 80 convictions for assault, robbery, dishonesty offences and escaping custody. He is the self-proclaimed leader of the Illawarra chapter of the notorious Brothers 4 Life gang, which was started by his former cellmate at Goulburn Supermax, Bassam Hamzy.

Illawarra Brothers 4 Life member Damien Featherstone.

Illawarra Brothers 4 Life member Damien Featherstone.

Featherstone was listed to appear in the ACT Supreme Court for sentence on Wednesday. He had taken the opportunity during a trip to Canberra in February last year to binge on ice. He was on parole at the time and wanted by police after a raid on his home.

Featherstone shot a man while they were at a south Canberra home using drugs and his co-accused Bloxsome, 50, stabbed the same man when he wouldn't stop screaming.

The pair kidnapped a woman when in an apparent ice-induced haze Featherstone became convinced her friends were coming to rob them. During what prosecutor Anthony Williamson described as horrific ordeal that lasted more than a day, the pair tied the woman up and beat and interrogated her. Bloxsome also raped her. A jury found both guilty of their crimes after a trial this year.

Featherstone was due to be sentenced for the shooting and kidnapping, as well as stealing a car, possessing a gun and breaking into a military shop to steal guns during the dangerous criminal rampage, to which he had pleaded guilty.

But once the hearing began, a barrister, Michael Dalla-Pozza, announced that he was appearing on behalf of the Commissioner for NSW Police. The barrister for Featherstone, John Purnell SC, then handed a letter to Justice David Mossop and flagged that he would apply for the whole proceedings to be held in closed court.

Justice Mossop ordered the public be excluded from the hearing. He told the media it would not be appropriate to disclose even the subject matter behind why the court had been closed.

The court was closed to the public twice during the hours long hearing, and once even the prosecutor and the man's defence lawyers were kicked out.

During a brief reopening of the court, Featherstone himself was called to the stand, in prison blues and handcuffs. His barrister asked two questions, whether he was interested in transitional release programs and whether he had a new resolve in his future, to which Featherstone answered yes.

The court was then closed again and did not reopen.

Featherstone will be sentenced at a later date.