A detainee has lost a bid to use human rights laws to force the prison to give him greater access to a computer to prepare for an upcoming appeal.
Isa Islam, a street preacher, bashed a fellow inmate in 2013, leaving the victim hospitalised for four weeks, including five days intubated in intensive care.
That bashing occurred while Islam was behind bars for a near-fatal stabbing outside a takeaway shop in Ainslie in 2008.
Islam repeatedly stabbed his victim, a neighbour who Islam believed to be persecuting him, rendering him a quadriplegic.
He was found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm, and was sentenced to nine years with a non-parole period of 4½ years.
Islam, who is currently enrolled in a PhD course with Charles Sturt University, is appealing the six-year sentence for the prison bashing. He is representing himself in the ACT Court of Appeal without the aid of the lawyer.
Islam launched civil action in recent months in an attempt to force the prison to allow him better access to a computer, the legal website Austlii, and cheaper faxing facilities. He also sought to hold more documentation in his cell than is normally allowed.
Islam claimed that he was being prevented from properly preparing for his appeal.
The case, which allowed Islam to cross-examine the jail's general manager, Don Taylor, relied on the ACT's Human Rights Act, in particular the entitlement for any individual charged with an offence to have "adequate time and facilities to prepare his or her defence".
Islam is housed in the management unit, which is designed for troublesome or difficult detainees, and is more restrictive than other parts of the jail.
The court heard one computer was shared between 25 or 26 inmates. Further time on a PC could be purchased by inmates, but Islam appeared reluctant to spend money on computer hire.
During the hearing, Islam was offered a two-hour uninterrupted stretch on the computer, and access to Austlii in the lead-up to his appeal.
Any more than that, and prison authorities said Islam would be being given exceptions and special privileges that may anger other detainees.
Islam, who has launched a number of civil actions against prison authorities recently, lost his bid to force corrections to give him freer access to computers.
Acting Justice Stephen Walmsley said the rights provided for in the Human Rights Act were not absolute. He said each case must be assessed on its merits, to see whether the court should intervene.
"There will be obvious cases where the court must intervene," Justice Walmsley wrote in a judgment earlier this month.
"There will be obvious cases where it will not. There is a need in each case to analyse the degree to which it could be said the relevant right is interfered with."
"Having performed that exercise here, I do not consider Mr Islam has made out a case for relief."
The judge found the attitude of AMC staff had been reasonable in the circumstances, and said Islam's right had not been infringed.
"I understand that from Mr Islam's perspective the course open to him is not nearly as convenient a way of preparing submissions as would have been the position had he not been in custody," he said.
"But in the AMC he is one of a large number of detainees and I can readily see why Mr Taylor sees potential problems if any more exceptions are made for Mr Islam."