Staff at a prison in Adelaide did not attempt to resuscitate an Indigenous inmate until three minutes after he had “turned blue”, a coronial inquest has heard.
Wiradjuri man Wayne Fella Morrison died at Royal Adelaide Hospital on September 26, 2016, three days after an altercation with guards left him braindead.
He was physically restrained after an altercation with guards at Yatala Labour Prison then carried outside and placed face down in the rear of a prison escort van.
Spit mask put on prisoner
Video footage made public on Monday shows Mr Morrison struggling as he was pinned by up to 12 officers outside the holding cells.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Anthony Crocker, told the court Morrison “was restrained with handcuffs, flexicuffs and a spit mask”.
Seven guards and a driver accompanied him in the van. Upon arrival at the jail’s G Division, Mr Morrison was “blue and unresponsive”.
“Precisely what occurred in the van is unknown as seven of the eight prison staff who accompanied Mr Morrison on the journey have declined to provide police with statements,” Mr Crocker said.
'Delay' in resuscitation
The court heard CPR began three minutes after the van arrived.
“This delay in any attempt to resuscitate Mr Morrison is an issue for the inquest,” Mr Crocker said.
The court heard than an ambulance was called five minutes after Mr Morrison’s face changed colour.
Mr Morrison was treated at the scene by prison health staff and paramedics before being taken to hospital but never regained consciousness.
There was no CCTV recording from inside the van. Footage showing resuscitation attempts was deemed too sensitive to release.
The cause of death was hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy, a condition which occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen, and multiple organ failure due to cardiac arrest.
“The ability to investigate the circumstances of Mr Morrison's death has been adversely affected by the decisions of some prison officers," Mr Crocker said.
Mr Morrison’s mother and sister, corrections staff and inmates are among those scheduled to give evidence.
The five-week inquest is due to conclude on September 28.