• The inquest into the death of Wayne Fella Morrison continues. (ABC)Source: ABC
The inquest into the death of Wayne Fella Morrison has heard a correctional officer ‘advised’ authorities to stop uploading incident reports until they received legal advice.
Sarah Collard

27 Apr 2021 - 5:07 PM  UPDATED 27 Apr 2021 - 5:07 PM

The coronial inquest into the death in custody of Wayne Fella Morrison has heard testimony from correctional officers on its second day. 

Mr Morrison died at the Royal Adelaide Hospital three days after he was pulled unresponsive from a prison van at Yatala Labor prison in September 2016.

The Wiradjuri, Kookatha and Wirangu man was handcuffed, restrained by ankle flexi-cuffs and a spit hood. 

The 29-year-old was then placed face down in the back of the van, with eight prison officers accompanying him from the prison's holding cells.

Corrections officer Michael Penn told Deputy Coroner Jayne Basheer that he instructed an officer to hold off from uploading incident reports until the officers could receive legal advice. 

The level two corrections officer admitted he didn’t seek the advice of management before requesting the ‘delay’, after arriving at work on the night of the incident. 

“I never spoke to management at all, I never even saw  them that night... Where were they hiding?" 

The court was shown CCTV  video of the afternoon Mr Penn arrived for work, but he refused to accept if the vision depicted was accurate. 

After attempting to cite legal privilege, saying he should not be compelled to give evidence on the timing of the phone calls, Mr Penn told the court he felt ‘bullied’ by the court process.

“I feel I am being bullied --  (that) should have been protected by a legal privilege.” 

Mr Penn admitted he sought legal advice twice before phoning the officer in charge of uploading reports. 

“I phoned him, seeking legal advice and let him know the seriousness of this matter and should not be forwarded reports because members and staff had not received any legal advice” Mr Penn told the court. 

“They should have the opportunity  to seek advice… I was taking care of members” Mr Penn said. 

Mr Penn, a corrections officer at  Yatala Labor Prison in South Australia is on the board of the Correctional Officers Legal Fund which provides legal advice to corrections staff.  

The inquest heard uploading of employee incident reports began at 3:43 PM and had stopped by 3:50pm on the Friday. 

Mr Penn said he made two phone calls to Tindall Gask Bentley, an Adelaide law firm which gives representation to correctional staff.

The court heard that Mr Penn arrived shortly after the incident and said he had serious concerns about the welfare of prison staff. 

Mr Penn told the court a possible death in custody ‘wasn’t his focus’ and he didn’t expect a death to occur - even after an officer arrived to investigate for a potential coronial inquiry. 

 “I honestly didn't think we'd have a death in custody from restraining the prisoner... I thought he was there to assist with an investigation into a potential assault into officers,” Mr Penn said. 

‘What happened in his final moments?’: Morrison family call for answers ahead of inquest
The family of Wayne Fella Morrison are calling for transparency and accountability ahead of an inquest into his 2016 death in custody.