Australia

Tanya Day inquest shown 'distressing' video of her falling and hitting head

Tanya Day died from a brain haemorrhage after falling and hitting her head while in custody. Source: AAP

An inquest into the death of an Aboriginal grandmother who died after a series of falls in custody has been shown video footage of her movements inside a Victorian police station cell.

Distressing footage of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day falling over and hitting her head multiple times in a Victorian police cell has been played at the inquest into her death.

Relatives and supporters of the Yorta Yorta grandmother gasped, cried and shook their heads as CCTV video showed Ms Day, 55, falling and hitting her head five times at Castlemaine Police Station on 5 December in 2017.

She died from a brain haemorrhage 17 days later.

The video played in the Coroners Court on Monday showed Ms Day staggering, falling and striking her head but police did not enter her cell until she was due to be released that night.

Coroner Caitlin English is examining whether racism contributed to Tanya Day's death.
Coroner Caitlin English is examining whether racism contributed to Tanya Day's death.
AAP

The viewing came after one of the officers tasked with checking on her told the inquest he and his colleague only looked through the cell window partly because of Ms Day's gender.

"To me it would be a very personal thing for a female to be in custody and have two men enter her cell," Leading Senior Constable Wayne Cairnes said.

"People deserve their privacy and dignity in the cell."

He also said he would have had to remove his weapons before going into the cell.

Snr Const Cairnes recalled seeing Ms Day standing in the cell but later conceded this was wrong after being played footage of her sprawled on the cell bed.

He and another officer checked on her for only seconds before being satisfied with her condition and walking away.

The inquest was earlier shown CCTV of police interaction with Tanya Day, before she was found dead.
The inquest was earlier shown CCTV of police interaction with Tanya Day, before she was found dead.
Supplied

Snr Const Cairnes thought his colleague asked, "Tanya, are you OK?" but conceded he could not definitively recall whether those exact words were said.

When Ms Day arrived at the police station, she bargained with officers to let her go.

Another officer on duty, Leading Senior Constable Wayne Rowe, said she would have been "about a seven (out of 10)" in terms of drunkenness.

He had to hold Ms Day to keep her still while her photo was taken and she knocked his hand away as he held her jacket, indicating it would have to be removed.

Tanya Day passed away in December 2017 after being arrested for public drunkenness
Tanya Day passed away in December 2017 after being arrested for public drunkenness
Supplied

"I spent about the next 10 minutes explaining to (Ms) Day that because she was going into the cell, she needed to remove her jacket (which contained a drawstring), shoes and jewellery," he said.

"At first, she didn't want to comply but she wasn't being resistant. She just wasn't listening to what we were saying and kept asking us why and trying to bargain with us to release her."

Police told the woman to sleep it off in the cell while they tried to organise someone to collect her.

Coroner Caitlin English is examining whether racism contributed to Ms Day's death.

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