James Gargasoulas faces court in 2018 over the Bourke St killings. Picture: AAP Image
James Gargasoulas faces court in 2018 over the Bourke St killings. Picture: AAP Image

Inside jail ‘hell’ with Victoria’s worst murderers

A transgender woman has told of her 56 days of "hell" locked up next to some of the state's worst killers in a Corrections blunder she says has left her mentally scarred.

The vulnerable 36-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, found herself caged between James Gargasoulas and Jaymes Todd as they shared graphic stories about their horrific killings.

Gargasoulas, 29, is serving a life sentence with no chance at parole until he is in his 70s following his Bourke St car rampage that killed six people in January 2017.

Todd, 19, is awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to the murder and rape of comedian Eurydice Dixon as she walked home in Carlton North in June last year.

Jaymes Todd, right, escorted by police. Picture: AAP Image/David Crosling
Jaymes Todd, right, escorted by police. Picture: AAP Image/David Crosling

In stark comparison, the woman had been arrested on a warrant after she failed to attend court for obtaining financial advantage by deception, drug possession and shop theft.

"They've taken people's lives," she told the Herald Sun. "I stole some makeup and didn't pay my cab fare. I should never have been exposed to all of this.

"They were both banging on my walls and talking about what they did.

"It really was hell. Gargasoulas introduced himself saying 'I'm the Bourke St killer'."

She spent from June 21 to August 15 last year in solitary confinement beside Gargasoulas at Melbourne Assessment Prison. Todd was only in the unit for two days.

She is speaking out now as she battles with her deteriorating mental health in a push for prison policies and procedures for transgender inmates to be overhauled.

"This should never have happened to me," she said. "The justice system needs to change its policies so this doesn't happen to anyone else."

Eurydice Dixon was murdered by Todd. Picture: AAP Image
Eurydice Dixon was murdered by Todd. Picture: AAP Image

Letters of complaint to prison bosses had fallen on deaf ears, she said.

"I don't want compensation. All I want is an apology," she said.

Born a male, she has identified as a woman since 2001 when she started taking hormone replacement therapy drugs. In 2005, she had breast augmentation surgery.

She said she should have been remanded at the women-only Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

But prison policies that focus on eliminating risks to all inmates, including her, meant she had to undergo blood tests to confirm she was on hormone therapy drugs and assess her reproductive functionality before she could go there.

She initially refused to have the tests because of a fear of needles.

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Prison documents revealed the sentence management panel, which is required to see transgender prisoners on their arrival, considered the best placement option for her was to remain in the protection unit for her own safety.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety said it was unable to comment on the placement of individual prisoners.

But it said the safety and welfare of the individual prisoner, and of other prisoners, "is always the paramount consideration" when determining their placement in the prison system.

rebekah.cavanagh@news.com.au