TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains details that may be distressing to some readers
The inquest into the death of Wiradjuri man Bailey Mackander has heard the circumstances around his death “were avoidable”.
20-year-old Mr Mackander died on 6 November 2019 from injuries sustained after he fell over a 10-metre wall under the watch of two prison guards at Gosford Hospital.
“As all are aware, Bailey Mackander ran from Corrective Officers to the concrete wall,” counsel assisting Tracey Stevens told the court in her opening statement.
Gosford Detectives’ Senior Constable Jesse Mears identified the unfenced wall as one contributing factor that could have been avoided, along with the gaps corrective officers left while escorting Mr Mackander, and the treatment he received in hospital.
CCTV footage played in court showed Mr Mackander shuffling slowly in shackles as he left the hospital accompanied by two corrective officers, who appeared to be metres away from him before he jumped over the wall.
He died the following day.
Mr Mackander was supposed to be transported back to Kariong Correctional Centre where he was on remand. He had been admitted to hospital after reportedly swallowing batteries and razor blades.
Three days before his death on 3 November 2019, the court heard Mr Mackander disclosed his “daily thoughts of suicide” in consultation with a psychologist who created a support plan.
The following day, a Risk Intervention Team assessed Mr Mackander’s risk of self-harm and suicide. The inquest will later hear from the team that prepared the assesment.
NSW Deputy Coroner Elaine Truscott was shown photographs of the emergency bay taken by Senior Constable Mears, who said the large black grill fence evident in the pictures “wasn’t there” days earlier when Bailey fell.
The court also heard from an inmate at Kariong Correctional Centre who said Mr Mackander told him he’d heard of prisoners attempting to escape custody in hospital while guards fell asleep.
Senior Constable Mears told the court he would have “spoken to him myself”, but wasn’t made aware of this account until NSW Corrective Services recently submitted it as evidence.
“I struggled greatly to obtain any information from NSW Corrective Services,” he said.
“Some documents were delayed, and others weren't provided at all”.
He also told the court of his difficulties obtaining details from Gosford Hospital.
“I was initially unable to obtain a list of staff that even treated Bailey”.
Ms Stevens said the inquest is expected to see CCTV footage from Kariong Corrections Office, phone records, and medical records revealing Mr Mackander’s history of mental health issues, drug use and suicidal ideation.
In her opening statement, she told the court Mr Mackander’s parents separated when he was 10 years old, after which had trouble in school and began using drugs at age 16.
The court heard Mr Mackander called his mother often to tell her he “had a really hard time in jail” and “wasn’t coping well”.
Ms Stevens said clinical notes from Justice Health stated Mr Mackander was struggling mentally throughout 2019.
In custody, he was reportedly taking ice, marijuana, and the antidepressant medication he was prescribed.
Mr Mackander was “desperate to be released”, and swallowed batteries and razor blades in August 2019.
A month later, he asked to see a mental health nurse, hoping an assessment would help avoid jail time, saying ““it’s very hard in here”.
The inquiry continues.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here. There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe.