Monday, September 8, 2008

Officers 'ignored inmates as man died'

An inquest has heard the fellow inmates of a man who died at a Sydney police centre had tried to get him medical help but were ignored by prison officers.

Garry Kelso, 46, died in a cell at Surry Hills Police Centre in 2006 after being denied bail for a larceny charge.

Glebe Coroner's Court has heard he had been withdrawing from heroin and suffered a heart attack.

Counsel assisting the coroner told the court several inmates said Mr Kelso looked unwell and they had repeatedly tried to raise the alarm, but were ignored by prison guards.

The court heard a prison guard told one of the inmates to kick Mr Kelso to see if he was still breathing.

The police officer that originally investigated the death was told by prison employees that Mr Kelso was waiting to see a nurse.

He said they did not known how serious his condition was until he threw a fit in his cell. He had a heart attack and was later pronounced dead in hospital.

The officer told the court that a mix-up in communication meant the prisoners who witnessed the incident had been left in a cell together for several hours, and so it was possible that their evidence was tainted.

Earlier, the court heard one prison nurse was on duty for the 54 inmates at Surry Hills and Mr Kelso had been waiting 29 hours to be seen.

The inquest continues.


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