Prisoner death: Staff 'lacked training'

Jai Davis
Jai Davis
Issues with training, procedures and health care coordination at the Otago Corrections Facility were highlighted again at a Coroner's Court hearing in Dunedin today, after a remand prisoner died of a drug overdose.

The hearing, before Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar, had earlier heard Otago Corrections Facility intelligence officers had listened to, and recorded, telephone conversations between Jai Davis and a prisoner that made it clear he planned to take ''candy'' (slang for prescription drugs) into the prison.

Mr Davis (30) subsequently died of a drug overdose at the prison not long after he smuggled in drugs in February 2011.

Today is the fourth day of a hearing into the matter, which is being held at a meeting room in the Forsyth Barr Stadium, and is expected to last up to two weeks.

As the hearing continued today, a former nurse at the Otago Corrections Facility, Sandra Lawrie, said she had received no specialised training in dealing with prisoners who were suspected of internally concealing drugs.

Ms Lawrie said she had been approached by a corrections officer, who was carrying a form, relating to the arrival in prison of Mr Davis, who was being taken directly to a dry cell, bypassing the usual prisoner reception procedures.

She had been asked to sign the form but had declined to do so for several reasons, including that she had not seen the prisoner herself at that stage.

Another former nurse at OCF, Anna Tipa, said she had received no detailed induction training on how to deal with drug-related issues at the facility, and had received no training in how to deal with prisoners who were thought to be carrying internally-concealed drugs.

Ms Tipa said she was aware that several key procedures had been changed and improved at the OCF since the death of Mr Davis, and that more extensive staff training was now provided.

Mr Davis' mother, Victoria Davis, says prison staff failed in their duty of care, and let her son die in an at-risk cell with no medical help.

She began a crusade to get what she says is justice for her son, with the inquiry the result.

Mr Davis entered the prison as a remand prisoner on February 11 2011.

He was held in a ''dry'' room at the facility, because it was thought he may have been carrying internally concealed drugs.

He subsequently died on February 14.