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How violent poo-chucker turned Buddhist
by Erin Godwin, Chinchilla News, 15th Oct 2016
Brisbane, Australia -- ONE of Queensland's most violent prisoners, who threw urine and feces at correction officers, says Buddhism has saved him.
Stephen Jay Breen was sentenced to three years for his most recent act - believed to be number 18 in a list of violent crimes that includes attempted murders of two fellow prisoners at the Maryborough Correctional Centre in 2009 and 2011.
His attack, on August 29, 2015, was one of 73 assaults by prisoners on correctional officers from January to June that year, three of which were held as 'serious'.
There were 133 assaults logged in the same period of this year, but none of them required medical treatment or overnight hospitalisation.
Breen, who carries the infectious hepatitis C disease, told Brisbane District Court on Friday he threw the concoction of bodily fluids in response to the inhumanity of his prison treatment.
The officers Breen hit were clothed in protection gear because of the prisoner's history.
Breen, currently in maximum security at the Woodford Correctional Centre near the Sunshine Coast, said for the past six years he had only been allowed out of his cell for two hours a day.
He said this caused him health issues.
"I've been diagnosed as a psychopath," he told the court, a diagnosis he had never had before his solitary confinement of recent years.
"I'm unable to talk to anybody."
"I'm not able to directly associate with other prisoners."
Breen conceded over the years in jail he had caused a lot of unnecessary and unprovoked harm.
But he said the way he was held did not "allow for an inmate to navigate one's own emotions".
Breen said he had to deal with the "fierce smell" of urine and feces in the maximum security unit because of another inmate throwing feces around for two to three months, every day.
With two life sentences and a parole date not until 2036, Breen said there was no reason for him to behave, with even farm privileges stripped from him as a prospect.
He said "they want someone to act humanely in an inhumane situation".
Breen, 34, who represented himself in court via videolink, said he had not one incident in the past six months, because he had started practising Buddhism.
He said he had been "following it seriously for the last eight months", and had been receiving teachings from reputed practitioners.
Judge Michael Shanahan said he would take into account how restrictive the conditions of prison are for Breen.
"It may be that you have no hope of achieving parole," he said.
He said however, the position Breen now found himself in was of his own making, and his actions required consequences.
Judge Shanahan extended Breen's parole eligibility to July 2036.
He said given Breen's circumstances, he could not wish him all the best.
"But I hope you have some hope, sir."