• Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman, Veronica Marie Nelson. (Supplied. )Source: Supplied.
Prison guards asked the nurse about Ms Nelson three times during the night, but the nurse said she didn't believe the woman was that unwell.
13 May 2022 - 10:01 AM  UPDATED 19 May 2022 - 6:40 PM

WARNING: This article contains content that may be distressing.

While Veronica Nelson screamed out in pain and made call after call for help, the only nurse in her Melbourne prison wing was watching a movie.

Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman Ms Nelson died in her cell at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in January 2020 after more than a dozen requests for assistance.

The requests including asking for more anti-nausea medication after she vomited up an early dose, and a drink of cordial.

Prison guards called nurse Atheana George three times during the night to ask about Ms Nelson, but the nurse said she didn't believe the Indigenous woman seemed that unwell.

Inquest hears of Veronica Nelson's pleas for help before her death
In the hours before Veronica Nelson's death on a prison cell floor, a nurse “pried” her fingers open to hand her medication for opiate withdrawals because she was unable to herself.

Ms George did see Ms Nelson once during the night, passing her medication, including Panadol, through a trap in the cell door.

In the few steps Ms Nelson took walking from the bed to the door Ms George said she appeared steady on her feet, was alert and responsive.

"According to my opinion, my point of view, she was looking OK at that stage," she said.

The inquest has previously heard from a prison guard who accompanied Ms George to Ms Nelson's cell, who said she told the nurse that Ms Nelson looked very unwell.

But Ms George denied that conversation and said it was because she had been treated so terribly by that particular guard in the past that she didn't ask for the door to be opened to assess Ms Nelson.

"She treated me badly... I don't want to talk any more," Ms George said, breaking down.

"Because of her I was so scared to ask her to open the door that day."

Ms George said she didn't think Ms Nelson looked unwell enough that it was necessary for her to open the door, but also that had she not been afraid of that officer she would have asked for it to be opened.

She never told anyone she was afraid of the officer.

Doctor tells inquest he made mistakes on Veronica Nelson's medical report
Dr Sean Runacres also accused the nurse who examined Ms Nelson with him of lying in her testimony.

Ms George was called twice more during the night by another guard about Veronica but did not go to see her again.

Showed footage of herself watching a film, Ms George told the inquest she sometimes put on movies or music for background noise because it could be scary being in the nursing office alone.

But an inquest into Veronica's death heard there is hours of footage of Ms George sitting watching the screen.

Ms George accepted that if she had opened the cell door, she might have seen that Veronica needed emergency medical treatment, and could potentially have saved her life.

Lawyers for Ms Nelson's mother, Aunty Donna Nelson, told Ms George they will submit that either she is lying - which she denies - or that her assessment of Ms Nelson through the cell trap for less than a minute was "totally incompetent".

"Maybe my assessment was not accurate," Ms George responded.

The inquest continues.

'Heartbroken': Wynne family says inquest fails to deliver justice
Despite multiple failures on the part on WA authorities, including inconsistent testimony by police, the coroner did not recommend any charges.