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Triple murderer charged for NSW jail death

AAP logoAAP 2/01/2017 Miranda Forster and Andi Yu

Notorious triple murderer John Walsh has allegedly struck again at the age of 77, accused of fatally bashing his cellmate with a sandwich press at a Sydney prison.

He was charged on Tuesday with the murder of fellow convicted killer Frank Townsend, 71, in their Long Bay prison cell after the latter was found with severe head injuries on Monday night.

Townsend later died in hospital.

Walsh appeared via video link in Parramatta Bail Court on Tuesday.

The case was adjourned to January 17 at Sydney's Central Local Court.

The alleged murder comes eight-and-a-half-years after Walsh killed his wife and two grandchildren at his Cowra home in central NSW.

In June 2008, the then-69-year-old stabbed his wife and bludgeoned her and his seven-year-old grandson with a hammer.

He drowned his five-year-old granddaughter in the bath and also drowned the family dog.

When Walsh's daughter came to collect the children he attacked her with an axe but she fought him off, suffering serious head injuries.

He told her, "I am doing this because I love you" and "when I am done with you lot I am going to Newcastle to kill your ex-husband", according to the facts at his 2009 court sentencing.

Walsh later told police his wife's murder was a "mercy killing" and that he decided to also kill his daughter and grandchildren because there would be no one left to look after them.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with Justice Lucy McCallum describing his actions as "wicked in the extreme".

Townsend was convicted of the shooting death of a woman in 2010.

Walsh's motive for murdering his cellmate is unknown.

Corrective Services Minister David Elliott said it was not uncommon for prisoners to share cells and to have cooking appliances in their cells.

He said there were three separate investigations into the death, and that he would be speaking to the Corrective Services commissioner to make sure everything was being done to ensure prisoner safety.

"Prisons are bad places where bad people go, and because we have to manage them in the most appropriate, safe and certainly tax-effective way, sometimes prisoners have to share cells," Mr Elliott told reporters on Tuesday.

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