A Coroner's Court has heard there is no apparent connection between the bashing of an Aboriginal prisoner and his death in jail months later.
By
Laura Morelli

28 Jul 2016 - 1:03 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2016 - 1:09 PM

Steven Freeman was found dead in his cell at the Alexander Maconochie Centre in May, with no answers to the exact cause of his death, leaving family, friends and members of the ACT Indigenous community distraught.

The 25-year-old was situated in the centre on charges of drink driving and possessing an offensive weapon.

"Despite protests for Freeman to not be returned to jail after he was nearly beaten to death, the Government said prison would be the 'safest place' for him... A year later, he was found dead in his cell."

A year prior to his death, Freeman was nearly beaten to death, which saw him left in an induced coma for a week.

Following his hospitalisation, members of Canberra's Aboriginal community had pushed for Freeman to not be returned to the jail, arguing his safety would be compromised. Despite protests from family and friends, the Government said the prison would be the “safest place” for him.

A year later, he was found dead in his cell.

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The ACT's Coroner said he couldn't "see the connection" between Mr Freeman's bashing and his later death but that it may become more relevant during the inquest into his passing.

The focus will be on matters such as the treatment of opioid dependence, the prescribing of methadone, admission policies and procedures when an inmate is opioid dependent, an investigation of supervision requirements and a review of CPR policies.

An autopsy report and other documents have not been made public.

 "It is my intention throughout this inquest ... to do the very best we can to answer the questions and concerns and establish the cause of the death of Mr Freeman."

Freeman's friends and family, including his mother, Narelle King, were in court, where Coroner Cook told them that he would do his best to establish the exact cause of death.

"I cannot guarantee I will find the answers to all your concerns and questions," he said. "It is my intention throughout this inquest ... to do the very best we can to answer the questions and concerns and establish the cause of the death of Mr Freeman."

The matter will return to court briefly in September before the hearing begins on the 5th December.

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