• Dwayne Johnstone was fatally shot outside Lismore Base Hospital in 2019. (Supplied.)Source: Supplied.
The mother of a man who was fatally shot by NSW Corrective Services officers outside Lismore Hospital says she's been in emotional turmoil in the lead-up to an inquest into her son's death.
Keira Jenkins

27 Oct 2020 - 4:14 PM  UPDATED 27 Oct 2020 - 4:14 PM

A coronial inquest into the death of Dwayne Johnstone has heard that the 43-year-old Wiradjuri man was fatally shot by a corrective services officer after attempting to escape from custody.

Mr Johnstone’s mother Kerry Crawford told NITV News her son was loving, caring and would do anything for anyone. 

Ms Crawford said she had been feeling a range of feelings in the lead-up to the commencement of the coronial inquest on Tuesday. 

"It's emotional turmoil, " she said. "I've been shutdown. It's horrible, it's hard to explain. It's a horrible feeling. You shouldn't have to bury your son." 

Despite being shackled with handcuffs and ankle-cuffs, counsel assisting the coroner, Peggy Dwyer told the court multiple witnesses saw Mr Johnstone run quickly from two corrective services officers outside Lismore Base Hospital in NSW, on March 15, 2019.

Mr Johnstone had been transferred to the hospital after appearing to suffer a seizure in a cell at Lismore Courthouse, where he was refused bail for assault charges. 

Two corrective services officers, whose identities have been suppressed by the court, accompanied Mr Johnstone to hospital.

Dr Dwyer said one officer had a revolver but did not have any other less lethal weapons, such as a taser, baton or capsicum spray. 

She said Mr Johnstone had previously attempted to escape from custody on two occasions but the two officers who accompanied him to the hospital in Lismore were not aware of his custodial history.

At the hospital, Mr Johnstone was given medication and then discharged as a patient.

Walking towards the prison transfer van which was parked on a nearby street, Mr Johnstone was held by his pants by one officer, a new recruit, while the officer with the firearm walked ahead.

The court heard that as the officer with the firearm opened the van, Mr Johnstone used his shoulder to push free of the other officer and run across the road.

Both officers began to chase Mr Johnstone. Witnesses heard the officer with the firearm yell for Mr Johnstone to stop.

The officer fired a warning shot. He fired a second shot when Mr Johnstone did not stop running. A third shot fired by the officer hit Mr Johnstone in the back.

Mr Johnstone died of the single bullet wound despite receiving urgent medical care.

Dr Dwyer told the court that Mr Johnstone was a man who was funny, warm and much loved by his family.

State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan will hear arguments from lawyers on Wednesday over whether the officer who shot Mr Johnstone committed an indictable offence and should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

She adjourned the inquest for the day shortly after Dr Dwyer outlined the evidence on Tuesday.

If the coroner decides to refer the officer to prosecutors, she may suspend the inquest, which began in Lismore on Tuesday.

If the inquest proceeds, the coroner will consider whether discharging the firearm was appropriate.

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