The mother of a mentally ill man who was found dead in a
police cell in Samoa hopes the death will lead to a better
understanding of mental illnesses in the Pacific Island
New Zealander Hans Dalton (38) was found dead, upside down
inside a container of water at Tafa'igata Prison on Boxing
Day, the Samoa Observer reported.
Mr Dalton, who required daily medication for his mental
illness, was visiting relatives in Samoa when Cyclone Evan
Mr Dalton could not find his medication on the night of the
cyclone and the following night when he tried to take his
tablet he could not keep it down.
"So he missed two doses; and that was enough to make him very
ill, his mother Christine Bowker Wilson told the Observer.
His sister Natasha took him to a psychiatrist in Motootua,
where he given an injection. However, this made him agitated
Mr Dalton reportedly punched a door, and as there was nowhere
to keep him at the unit, he was taken to a police station in
According to Natasha Dalton, police were told by hospital
staff he was not a prisoner and needed to be looked after.
Instead he was taken to Tafa'igata Prison.
On Boxing Day, as his family were getting ready to visit Mr
Dalton at the prison, police arrived and told them he had
Mrs Wilson was given the news at Faleolo Airport after flying
from Auckland. She said the family was able to see Mr
Dalton's body at the hospital.
She told the Observer her son had brain fluid coming out of
his ears and bruises all over his body.
"I know he banged his head on the wall, because people do
that when they're in that condition; but if you see someone
doing that, you don't just let them - you try and stop them
from hurting themselves."
Assistant Police Commissioner Le'aupepe Fatu Pula said Mr
Dalton's death was an alleged suicide, the Observer reported.
He said Mr Dalton was transferred from the police station in
Apia to the prison as the station was busy.
The cellblocks at Tafa'igata Prison had containers of water
for the toilets and it was alleged Mr Dalton jumped into one,
Mrs Wilson said it was dangerous to assume how her son had
"I don't know if it was another prisoner or one of the staff.
I think at the back of it all is a lack of understanding of
mental illness," she told the Observer.
"One thing I'm very sure of is that my son did not take his
Mrs Wilson described her son as a "a gentle and sensitive
person with the most beautiful soul".
She said her son's death highlighted the need for better
mental healthcare services and facilities in Samoa.
Mr Dalton's body was flown to back to New Zealand early on
Monday and the family was preparing for his tangi.
Mrs Wilson said her son's death was being investigated by New
A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed the death had been
referred to the New Zealand coroner.