Beyond the prison gates

TROY Bannon was seconds away from adding to the alarming number of Australian prisoners who die shortly after their release.

Months after serving one of four prison sentences for offences such as theft and burglary, and committed to feeding a 16-year heroin addiction, he ran into a former cellmate who coaxed him into injecting three-quarters of a gram of heroin.

His former cellmate called for an ambulance and paramedics arrived to discover that Troy’s heart had stopped. Defibrillators were used as a desperate, but effective, last resort. 

“When I came round I was told I had flatlined. I knew I had to thank the guy, through gritted teeth, for saving my life by calling an ambulance, even though I was furious with him for selling it to me because I had been clean for a good while and a quarter of that amount could have killed me,” says Troy, a married 35-year-old father of two, who lives near Frankston, Victoria.