Ex-jail manager pleads guilty to disturbing charges
A former Geelong prison boss has pleaded guilty to a string of disturbing charges that could see him jailed with inmates he once managed.
Wayne Harper, 57, appeared at Geelong Magistrates' Court last Friday and entered guilty pleas to five charges relating to child abuse material.
He was serving as general manager at Marngoneet Correctional Centre until September last year, when Geelong detectives charged him with child exploitation offences.
During a committal mention hearing, Harper, of Leopold, pleaded guilty to charges of producing child abuse material and knowingly possessing child pornography.
He also pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing child abuse material and two counts of transmitting child pornography using a carriage service.
The charges each carry maximum penalties that range from 10 to 15 years in jail.
A further seven charges were withdrawn before Harper entered his guilty pleas.
Harper had been due to face a plea hearing in Geelong Magistrates' Court earlier this year until the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions took over the case from Victoria Police.
Prosecutor Alana Groves told a hearing in February that the evidence against Harper included online chatroom conversations.
"This is incredibly serious," she said. "It (the material) is at the highest level."
During the same hearing, defence barrister Sally Flynn, QC, said Harper had been experiencing an "emotional toll" as a result of the charges hanging over his head.
Harper, who has been on bail since he was charged, is due to face the County Court for a plea hearing on October 26.
Now unemployed, he began working at Marngoneet in 2006 when the medium-security prison opened at Lara.
The centre contains both the 559-bed Marngoneet jail and the adjoining Karreenga, a 300-bed complex housing many sex offenders.
During his career with Corrections Victoria, Harper also served as general manager of both the Barwon and Loddon prisons.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Ex-jail manager pleads guilty to disturbing charges