Newman files 'secretly modified'

Two letters written by Risdon prison psychiatrist Alan Jager about wife-killer Jack Newman's prison classification were secretly modified two days after the inmate's death, an inquest was told yesterday.

Records clerk Kim Woodberry told a coronial inquest that she had read two letters written by Dr Jager dated August 3 and August 31, 1999, as she placed them in Newman's prison files just weeks before his death on September 18 last year.

However, the court was told that two computer files containing the Newman letters had been accessed and changed from the computer of Dr Jager's secretary at 11.52am just two days after Newman's death.

Newman was formerly known as Rory Jack Thompson.

Mystery over Newman letters

The letters were written after Newman appeared before a prison classification committee after his July 5 escape to see if he would be allowed back into his beloved prison gardens.

Ms Woodberry said that a few weeks later the report on Newman arrived, with Dr Jager stating that Newman should not be allowed back into the prison gardens, including the hospital gardens, because he was not settled.

The August 31 letter also refused Newman's repeated requests to be let back into the gardens.

"I remember it because after seeing (Newman) at the re-classification hearing, I saw how upset and depressed Jack was, and I knew as soon as he found out he wouldn't be let back into the gardens, he'd be devastated," she said.

Ms Woodberry also revealed that an unknown person from the prison hospital had requested Newman's file just two days before the inmate's death.

"I thought it was unusual. They usually don't take Jack's file anywhere," she said.

Newman, who killed his American wife Maureen in 1984 and flushed pieces of her body down the toilet of the family's West Hobart home, was found hanged in his cell just 12 hours after schizophrenic Thomas Patrick Holmes, 29, was also found hanged.

Ms Woodberry said that when she was shown Newman's prison files in December 1999, she noticed that the two letters were not the same as the ones she had viewed before Newman's death.

The content of the letters was "completely different", and they did not have accommodation manager Kevin Salter's signature on them, which the original letters had contained.

Police officer Const. John Schofield told the court that two computer files containing the Newman letters had been accessed and changed from the computer of Dr Jager's secretary at 11.52am two days after Newman's death.

Secretary Gaye Browne told the court that she could not remember opening the file, but insisted she did not change any details.

Ms Browne also denied suggestions that Dr Jager had changed any file details, or even been in the building at the time the apparent modifications occurred.

The inquest is continuing.